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Focal enterprises' control and knowledge transfer risks in R&D networks: The mediating role of relational capability

Min Guo (School of Management, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi'an, China)
Naiding Yang (School of Management, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi'an, China)
Yanlu Zhang (School of Management, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi'an, China)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 31 March 2020

Issue publication date: 27 May 2021

452

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore that relational capability plays a mediator role in the relationship between focal enterprises' control on knowledge transfer risks in R&D network.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reviews the related literature from which it proposes a theoretical hypothesis and conceptual framework which is tested empirically adopting regression methodology by mathematical statistics software.

Findings

The results reveal that focal enterprises' control (core technological capability and network position) have a positive effect on knowledge transfer risks without the mediation of relational capability. Moreover, relational capability mediates the positive relationship between core technological capability and knowledge transfer risks.

Research limitations/implications

The cross-sectional data of this research has difficult in testing causality between the variables, and future research should take account of the potential factors that can impact on knowledge transfer risks.

Practical implications

The results provide more valuable information to managers in alleviating knowledge transfer risks in R&D networks. For one thing, the study indicates how focal firms' control (core technological capability and network position) can be taken advantage of improving R&D efficiency and reducing the knowledge transfer risks. For another, the results emphasize that relational capability plays an important role in interacting with cooperative enterprises in the process of R&D activities.

Originality/value

Few studies present a theoretical discussion on focal firms control as the important determinants of knowledge transfer risks especially in the R&D network. Moreover it expands the related risk management theory by relational capability that mediates the relationship between focal firms control and knowledge transfer risks.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the editor and anonymous reviewers at the European Journal of Innovation Management for their valuable comments and suggestions that have significantly improved the quality of this paper. The authors also supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71471146;71871182;71581158).

Citation

Guo, M., Yang, N. and Zhang, Y. (2021), "Focal enterprises' control and knowledge transfer risks in R&D networks: The mediating role of relational capability", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 870-892. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJIM-06-2019-0180

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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