Building on theories of inter-organizational knowledge flows and social network, we explored how two types of collaboration network embeddedness (NE) (i.e. structural embeddedness (SE) and relational embeddedness (RE)) drive firms' inbound and outbound open innovation (OI) practices from a knowledge flow perspective, and further examined these relationships are to what extent contingent on network inertia (NI).
In this empirical research, the authors collected a sample of patents in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry over the period of 2000–2018. Then the authors examined the direct roles of SE and RE in collaboration networks on firms' inbound and outbound OI practices from a knowledge flow perspective, and the moderating role of NI by using negative binomial regression.
Empirical results from our study of 96 firms showed that both bridging structural holes position in collaboration networks (i.e. SE) and having stronger tie strength (i.e. RE) would positively affects firms' inbound OI practices, whereas only having stronger tie strength in collaboration networks (i.e. RE) would facilitate outbound OI practices. In addition, NI strengthens the relationships between SE and firm OI practice, but weakens the positive roles of RE on firm OI practice.
This empirical research provides new insights into whether and how firms can grasp the benefits of collaboration NE to conduct OI activities by exploring NI contingencies. It further sheds lights on the scope of the NE–OI issue from a knowledge flow perspective by extending its research context to UAV industry.
The authors are indebted to Prof. Carlo Giglio, and two anonymous reviewers for their many constructive insights and suggestions. This research was supported by National Nature Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 71573064, 71490724, 71801169, 71771161, 71804056), Humanities and Social Sciences Research Project of the Ministry of Education of China (Grant Nos. 18YJC630250), and China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (Grant Nos. 2018M642033).
Shi, X., Lu, L., Zhang, W. and Zhang, Q. (2021), "Managing open innovation from a knowledge flow perspective: the roles of embeddedness and network inertia in collaboration networks", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 1011-1034. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJIM-07-2019-0200
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