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Cooperation for innovation: more is not necessarily merrier

Serdal Temel (Chemical Engineering Department, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey)
Anne-Laure Mention (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia) (Tampere University, Tampere, Finland) (Singapore University of Social Sciences, Singapore, Singapore) (INESC TEC, Porto, Portugal)
Alp Eren Yurtseven (TÜBÍTAK, Ankara, Turkey)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 16 September 2021

Issue publication date: 8 March 2023




Embracing a large set of innovation objectives and collaborating with diverse partners have been promoted as a means to improve innovation performance. However, empirical evidence on the relationships between breadth of objectives, breadth of cooperation and innovation performance is limited, particularly in the context of emerging economies. A larger number of objectives and cooperation partners inevitably increases the complexity in organizational alignment, and cooperation eventually leads to diminishing returns. This study adds to the debate on the costs and benefits of cooperation for innovation. Understanding the optimal levels of the breadth of objectives and cooperation supports managerial decision-making and productivity in the practice of cooperation for innovation.


Operationalizing breadth of innovation objectives and cooperation via the Turkish Community Innovation Survey data, self-reports reflecting 5,863 firm-level responses between 2006 and 2008 are analysed using tobit and probit models. The maximum likelihood estimator is used to find the optimal levels for breadth of objectives and cooperation.


Firms with greater breadth of innovation objectives experience higher innovation performance; those with greater breadth of cooperation also experience higher innovation performance, but our results indicate the existence of optimal levels of breadth for both innovation objectives and cooperation.

Research limitations/implications

The authors extend the logic that there is no safety in numbers in cooperation for innovation. If the aim is to enhance innovation performance, managers and policymakers need to pay attention to the number of innovation objectives and the amount of cooperation pursued by firms. However, innovation success may be closely associated with a firm's dynamic capabilities and ability to mobilize its resources. Drawing on organizational learning theories, future research could explore why a lower than maximum level of cooperation may be more conducive to reaching levels of enhanced innovation performance and whether this level is influenced by cognitive processes.


The authors draw attention to the ideal number of innovation objectives and number of cooperating partners required to enhance innovation performance, thus contributing to the debate on the complex relationships between innovation, performance and cooperation in the unique setting of a large developing economy.



Disclaimer: The views and interpretations expressed here belong to the authors and cannot be attributed to the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, its affiliated organizations or any other individual acting on behalf of these organizations.


Temel, S., Mention, A.-L. and Yurtseven, A.E. (2023), "Cooperation for innovation: more is not necessarily merrier", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 446-474.



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