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External information sourcing and lead-time advantage in product innovation

Kristof Van Criekingen (Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy (CFA), Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark) (Expertise Centre for Research and Development Monitoring (ECOOM), KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 4 June 2020

Issue publication date: 14 July 2020



Having a short throughput time for innovation projects, i.e. lead-time, can put firms in an advantageous position. The time that lapses between a project’s start and its completion, is influenced not only by the firm's internal capabilities but also by how the firm connects to external knowledge. This paper assesses the relation between knowledge sourcing and lead-time advantage.


This paper empirically tests the relation between external knowledge sourcing and lead-time advantage based on firm level Community Innovation Survey (CIS) data.


I find that breadth and depth of the external knowledge sourcing are positively relating to lead-time advantage, albeit with diminishing returns. Investment into absorptive capacity, i.e. internal R&D, mitigates the diminishing of returns. Firms directing their external knowledge sourcing strategy toward consumers, suppliers and science are better able to capitalize on their innovations through lead-time advantages and firms also benefit from the special case of collaboration for product development.


The conceptual novelty of this research largely consists in empirically bringing together for the first time conceptualizations of external knowledge sourcing and the strategic use of lead-time. Given the prevalence of both concepts in the modern and fast changing economy, investigating this link is of great importance.



The author is grateful for the support and data-access provided by the centre for R&D monitoring at KU Leuven, BE. Furthermore, The author thanks Dirk Czarnitzki, Carter Bloch, Laura Verheyden, Cem Ermagan and Steven Vanhaverbeke for their valued input. Also, the participants at the Competition and Innovation Summer School 2018(Ulncji, Monenegro) and the DRUID 2019 (Copenhagen, Denmark, 2019) and R&D 2018 (Leuven, Belgium) conference are acknowledged for their valuable comments. The manuscript greatly benefited from the comments received from the anonymous reviewers.


Van Criekingen, K. (2020), "External information sourcing and lead-time advantage in product innovation", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 21 No. 5, pp. 709-726.



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