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Managing Search Strategies for Open Innovation: The Role of Environmental Munificence as well as Internal and External R&D

  • Sofka, Wolfgang
  • Grimpe, Christoph

Firms compete increasingly in an open innovation environment. Search strategies for external knowledge become therefore crucial for firm success. Existing research differentiates between the breadth (diversity) and depth (intensity) with which firms pursue external knowledge source. A consensus exists that resource constrains force firms to balance both dimensions. However, relatively little is known on how managers can selectively strengthen one of these dimensions. We argue conceptually that the breadth and depth of a search strategy depends upon the nature of a firm's absorptive capacity (i.e. whether they are built through internal or external R&D activities) and the munificence of its innovation environment. We test these hypotheses empirically for a large sample of more than 8,300 firms from 12 European countries. Our empirical results show that in-house R&D strengthens the depth of a firm's search strategy while external R&D activities (e.g. contract research) increase its breadth. Moreover, we find that scarce innovation environments favor deep search strategies while breadth is more prevalent in munificent environments. We develop targeted management recommendations based on these results.

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Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 08-075.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:7418
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  1. Nadiri, M.I., 1993. "Innovations and Technological Spillovers," Working Papers 93-31, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  2. Criscuolo, Chiara & Haskel, Jonathan E. & Slaughter, Matthew J., 2010. "Global engagement and the innovation activities of firms," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 191-202, March.
  3. Zahra, Shaker A., 1993. "Environment, corporate entrepreneurship, and financial performance: A taxonomic approach," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 319-340, July.
  4. Grimpe, Christoph & Sofka, Wolfgang, 2009. "Search patterns and absorptive capacity: Low- and high-technology sectors in European countries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 495-506, April.
  5. M. Ishaq Nadiri, 1993. "Innovations and Technological Spillovers," NBER Working Papers 4423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Teece, David J., 1993. "Profiting from technological innovation: Implications for integration, collaboration, licensing and public policy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 112-113, April.
  7. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2002. "Patents, Real Options and Firm Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages C97-C116, March.
  8. Kaiser, Ulrich, 2002. "An empirical test of models explaining research expenditures and research cooperation: evidence for the German service sector," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 747-774, June.
  9. Liebeskind, Julia Porter, 1997. "Keeping Organizational Secrets: Protective Institutional Mechanisms and Their Costs," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(3), pages 623-63, September.
  10. Nancy T. Gallini, 2002. "The Economics of Patents: Lessons from Recent U.S. Patent Reform," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(2), pages 131-154, Spring.
  11. Sendhil Mullainathan & Marianne Bertrand, 2001. "Do People Mean What They Say? Implications for Subjective Survey Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 67-72, May.
  12. Zahra, Shaker A. & Covin, Jeffrey G., 1995. "Contextual influences on the corporate entrepreneurship-performance relationship: A longitudinal analysis," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 43-58, January.
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