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Cost reduction vs innovative search in R&D

Philip Bromiley (Merage School of Management, University of California, Irvine, California, USA)
Mark Washburn (College of Business Administration, California State University, Long Beach, California, USA)

Journal of Strategy and Management

ISSN: 1755-425X

Article publication date: 9 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to compare alternative search behaviors managers enact with regard to firm aspirations.

Design/methodology/approach

The behavioral theory of the firm predicts that poor performance relative to aspiration levels leads to search for ways to raise performance over aspirations. Most researchers have assumed search leads to risk‐taking or innovation. However, firms might search for ways to raise performance without incurring additional risk, such as reducing expenses. This paper compares the two models of search using data on research and development (R&D) spending.

Findings

The results generally support the cost cutting argument; R&D spending increases monotonically with performance relative to social aspirations.

Research limitations/implications

These results suggest researchers need to consider searches that emphasize cost reduction, as well as searches that emphasize innovation.

Originality/value

Overall, this paper extends behavioral work on risk‐taking and R&D to provide a more complex view of the interactions between kinds of aspiration levels and both innovation and search behavior.

Keywords

Citation

Bromiley, P. and Washburn, M. (2011), "Cost reduction vs innovative search in R&D", Journal of Strategy and Management, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 196-214. https://doi.org/10.1108/17554251111152243

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited