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Boundary-spanning search, knowledge integration capability and sustainable competitive advantage

Miaomiao Yang (School of Management, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi'an, China)
Juanru Wang (School of Management, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi'an, China)
Jin Yang (School of Public Policy and Administration, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi'an, China)

Baltic Journal of Management

ISSN: 1746-5265

Article publication date: 1 April 2021

Issue publication date: 20 May 2021

614

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how boundary-spanning search affects sustainable competitive advantage under the conditions that competitors also search and to test the moderating role of knowledge integration capability.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper classifies boundary-spanning search into proactive search and responsive search by considering competition and develops a theoretical model in which knowledge integration capability moderates the effects of proactive and responsive searches on sustainable competitive advantage. Empirical analyses were conducted on the data of 245 Chinese advanced manufacturing firms.

Findings

The results show that proactive and responsive searches have inverted U-shaped relationships with sustainable competitive advantage. Moreover, the relationships between proactive and responsive searches and sustainable competitive advantage are moderated by knowledge integration capability. Specifically, as knowledge integration capability increases, the inverted U-shaped relationship between proactive search and sustainable competitive advantage becomes flatter, whereas the inverted U-shaped relationship between responsive search and sustainable competitive advantage becomes almost linear.

Originality/value

This paper enriches the research of boundary-spanning search by considering competition and uncovers how boundary-spanning search affects sustainable competitive advantage under the conditions that competitors also search. Furthermore, this paper sheds light on that the effects of proactive and responsive searches on sustainable competitive advantage are even more complex than inverted U-shaped patterns and provides a contingent viewpoint to deeply understand the relationship between boundary-spanning search and sustainable competitive advantage.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors appreciate the help of anonymous reviewers and Professor Ruta Kazlauskaite in improving this paper. This research is supported by Humanity and Social Science Foundation of Ministry of Education of China (Grant No. 18XJA630006) and Social Science Fund Project of Shaanxi Province (Grant No. 2019S043).

Citation

Yang, M., Wang, J. and Yang, J. (2021), "Boundary-spanning search, knowledge integration capability and sustainable competitive advantage", Baltic Journal of Management, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 446-464. https://doi.org/10.1108/BJM-08-2020-0314

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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