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Firm collaborative capability and new product development performance: the mediating role of heterogeneous knowledge acquisition

Feng Zhang (School of Business Administration, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China)
Lei Zhu (School of Business Administration, Guangdong University of Finance and Economics, Guangzhou, China)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 13 July 2020



From the dynamic capability perspective, the aim of this paper is to develop a conceptual framework for collaborative capability, including scanning, relational skills and adaptation and to test the impact of each dimension on the acquisition of technological and marketing knowledge from partners. The conceptual framework also suggests that these two types of knowledge acquisition have different impacts on new product development (NPD) creativity and speed.


This study builds a theoretical framework and tests it with survey data from 289 Chinese manufacturing firms.


Firms with strong collaborative capability are identified to gain better knowledge acquisition from their partners and achieve higher NPD performance. While acquired technological knowledge has a greater effect on NPD creativity than acquired marketing knowledge, the latter has a greater effect on NPD speed. In addition, these two types of knowledge acquisition form different mediating paths between collaborative capability and NPD performance.

Practical implications

This study not only underlines the important role of collaborative capability in facilitating knowledge acquisition, which in turn improves NPD performance, but also suggests that decision-makers should note the different roles of technological knowledge and market knowledge in influencing NPD performance.


These findings enrich the understanding of how firms enhance NPD performance by developing collaborative capability in a major emerging economy (i.e. China). In addition to demonstrating the differential effects of heterogeneous knowledge acquisition on NPD performance, different pathways of mediation through knowledge acquisition are also identified in the relationship between collaborative capability and NPD outcomes.



We gratefully acknowledge the helpful comments received from editors and anonymous reviewers. This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71704056), Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (CN) (Grant No. 2019A1515011023), and the Fundamental Research Funds for Central Universities (Grant No. x2gsC2181500).


Zhang, F. and Zhu, L. (2020), "Firm collaborative capability and new product development performance: the mediating role of heterogeneous knowledge acquisition", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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