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Managing open innovation from a knowledge flow perspective: the roles of embeddedness and network inertia in collaboration networks

Xiaoxiao Shi (School of Management, Harbin Institute of Industry, Harbin, China)
Lu Lu (School of Management, Harbin Institute of Industry, Harbin, China)
Wei Zhang (School of Public and Management, Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China)
Qingpu Zhang (School of Management, Harbin Institute of Industry, Harbin, China)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 11 May 2020

Issue publication date: 27 May 2021

745

Abstract

Purpose

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).

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

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).

Citation

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

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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