How open innovation performance responds to partner heterogeneity in China

Shufang Huang (School of Public Administration, Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, Hangzhou, China)
Jin Chen (Research Center for Technological Innovation, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China)
Liang Liang (Zhejiang Institute of Industry and Information Technology, Hangzhou, China)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Publication date: 8 January 2018



The link between openness and innovative performance has been established as an inverted U-shape relationship, namely, the openness-performance connection is not always positive. The purpose of this paper is to introduce the concept of partner heterogeneity to characterize the influence of “quality” changes in partners on innovative performance, that is, the focus of this paper. Given that partner heterogeneity is crucial in explaining open innovative performance, it is also worth placing the examination of this key construct in emerging regions such as China.


The sample selection of this study covers a wide range of industries, but requires that the sample firms be manufacturing enterprises with an open innovation strategy. With opportunities and challenges associated with partner collaboration toward open innovation, the Chinese province of Zhejiang has established its reputation. Thus, empirical data were collected randomly from data pool of Zhejiang Province Economic and Information Commission, as well as a survey questionnaire. Data were using a cross-sectional survey methodology encompassing diverse organizations, industries, and nations.


Empirical testing of this assumption in a sample of 217 manufacturing firms indicates that partner heterogeneities, which are classified as organizational heterogeneity, industry heterogeneity, and national heterogeneity are all positively associated with innovative performance, but the strength of this association is influenced by environmental turbulence. Technological turbulence significantly and positively modulates the relationships of organizational and national heterogeneities with innovative performance. Market turbulence also plays a significant positive role on the relationship between national heterogeneity and innovative performance, while technological and market turbulence roles on the relationship between industry heterogeneity and innovative performance are not confirmed.


This paper refines the connotative dimensions of partner heterogeneity around the core concept of partner heterogeneity in open innovation in the context of emerging region, China. The study presents a systematic, in-depth analysis, and verifies the impact mechanisms of partner heterogeneity in open innovation on innovative performance by integrating the resource-based view, organizational learning theory, and transaction cost theory.



This research is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71704155). The authors wish to thank the editors and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and suggestions during the review process.


Huang, S., Chen, J. and Liang, L. (2018), "How open innovation performance responds to partner heterogeneity in China", Management Decision, Vol. 56 No. 1, pp. 26-46.

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