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External knowledge search for innovation: the role of firms’ innovation strategy and industry context

Mercedes Segarra-Ciprés (Department of Business Administration and Marketing, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain)
Juan Carlos Bou-Llusar (Department of Business Administration and Marketing, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 12 February 2018

Issue publication date: 27 March 2018

2108

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to analyze the extent to which the influence of external knowledge search on innovation performance is contingent on both a firm’s innovation strategy and the industry context in which it operates.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper adopts a contingent approach that centers analysis on the influence of situational factors, either exogenous or endogenous to the organization, as determinants of the external knowledge search in promoting the firm’s innovation performance. The empirical study is based on a large sample of 18,955 firms operating in 29 industries that belong to 13 European countries.

Findings

This analysis reveals that a broad knowledge search is more effective for firms that innovate in new goods, while a deeper knowledge search is more effective for firms that innovate in new services. The results of this study also indicate that external knowledge search varies across industries, with search depth being used more in industries in which the knowledge development process is cumulative and appropriable, while the external breadth search is preferred in industries with a high level of technological opportunity.

Originality/value

The current approach implies recognizing that the knowledge search strategies may not always be effective, and that firms should align the search strategy to both internal and external factors. Analyzing the influence of these factors can help managers to better choose the type of knowledge search (e.g. intensive or extensive search) that best aligns with the firm’s innovation objectives.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful for financial support for this research from the Ministry of Science and Innovation (ref. ECO2015-66671-P). The authors thank the European Commission’s Eurostat for access to microdata from the Community Innovation Survey 2006 (CIS-2006). Eurostat is not responsible for the results and conclusions of this study.

Citation

Segarra-Ciprés, M. and Bou-Llusar, J.C. (2018), "External knowledge search for innovation: the role of firms’ innovation strategy and industry context", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 280-298. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-03-2017-0090

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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