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Open innovation search in manufacturing firms: the role of organizational slack and absorptive capacity

Yueqi Wang (Faculty of Management and Economics, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, China)
Bin Guo (School of Management, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China)
Yanjie Yin (Social Network Group, Tencent Inc., Shanghai, China)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




The purpose of this study is to explore organizational factors that act as antecedents of open innovation search. The authors aim to empirically examine whether the extent to which the organizational slack is absorbed determines its influence on firms’ openness in innovation search. In addition, the authors also examine the moderating effect of absorptive capacity on the relationship between slack and open innovation search.


This study adopted secondary data from multiple sources (NBER, Compustat and US census) and then constructed a ten-year balanced panel dataset of 298 manufacturers. The generalized least square method was used to explore the determinants of open innovation search among manufacturing firms.


The results of this study reveal that the absorption level of organizational slack indeed determines the openness in innovation search. Specifically, absorbed slack negatively affects a firm’s openness in innovation search, whereas unabsorbed slack promotes open innovation search. Additionally, the relationship between absorbed slack and open innovation search will be less negative with the increase of absorptive capacity.


Different from most previous studies that have examined the performance effect of open search among high-tech and large enterprises, this study focuses on the antecedents of open search strategy in both high- and low-tech, large and small firms. The findings reveal that different forms of organizational slack divergently influence a firm’s open search strategy, contributing to the understanding of the relationship between organizational slack and knowledge search behavior in a broader context, as well as the understanding of the moderating effect of absorptive capacity.



This study was sponsored by the Natural Science Foundation of Zhejiang Province, China (No. Y17G020035).


Wang, Y., Guo, B. and Yin, Y. (2017), "Open innovation search in manufacturing firms: the role of organizational slack and absorptive capacity", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 656-674.



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