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Article
Publication date: 20 April 2020

Manzoor Ul Akram, Koustab Ghosh and Rojers P. Joseph

This study aims to investigate the external knowledge search behaviors in terms of search breadth and search depth in family firms and the resultant product innovation in…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate the external knowledge search behaviors in terms of search breadth and search depth in family firms and the resultant product innovation in Indian context. The authors theorize the mediating role of absorptive capacity (potential and realized absorptive capacity) between knowledge sourcing from external sources and product innovation. Further, the authors examine the moderating role of crucial internal social capital of the family firm in enhancing the use of external knowledge for firm innovation activities.

Design/methodology/approach

The study uses a quantitative research design taking single informant for collection of data from 151 family small and medium enterprises in automotive sector in India. The authors use structural equation modeling to test hypothesized relationships.

Findings

The findings indicate that both search breadth and search depth of family firms are positively associated with product innovation in family firms. The authors also find evidence for partial mediating role of potential and realized absorptive capacity in the relationship between search breadth and innovation and search depth and innovation. The results show how family firms learning taking place while scanning external knowledge sources in terms of external absorptive capacity routines. Finally, the authors find that family firm internal social capital positively moderate the relationship between search breadth and depth, and product innovation.

Practical implications

Family firms need to innovate to remain relevant in the long-run and as such development of superior capabilities is of great significance to them. Family firm managers must be open to external knowledge as such knowledge help them improve the firm level of innovation through absorptive capacity. Further, family firms must realize and act upon the importance of their social capital for the integration and utilization of acquired knowledge.

Originality/value

This paper is amongst a few papers that take dynamic capability views of innovation in family firms wherein the authors theorize how external search breadth and depth lead to the development of potential and realized absorptive capacity in family firms. The importance of family firm internal social capital as a strong integrating and knowledge sharing mechanism that helps family firms transform external knowledge into innovation is also highlighted.

Details

VINE Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems, vol. 51 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2059-5891

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Article
Publication date: 12 February 2018

Mercedes Segarra-Ciprés and Juan Carlos Bou-Llusar

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…

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.

Details

Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 22 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1367-3270

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Article
Publication date: 15 March 2021

Changfeng Wang, Sabine Brunswicker and Ann Majchrzak

This study aims to investigate the effects of project-level external knowledge search breadth and search depth on the innovation performance of open innovation (OI…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate the effects of project-level external knowledge search breadth and search depth on the innovation performance of open innovation (OI) projects in large firms; it further considers these effects mediated by two forms of control mechanisms (process and outcome control) when the level of project complexity and the two stages of a project – early (problem definition) and late (solution development) – are taken into account.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a survey of 187 managers responsible for an OI project, the authors use theory on behavioral-based control mechanisms to explore whether the effect of external knowledge search breadth and depth on OI performance is contingent on having the right levels of control mechanisms in place.

Findings

The results showed that the control mechanism mediates the relationship between external knowledge search breadth and depth and OI project performance. Furthermore, project complexity is an important moderator of these effects, especially for outcome control.

Originality/value

A better OI project’s performance is not achieved by external knowledge search breadth and depth alone, but by building process and outcome control mechanism on it to balance knowledge sharing and protecting tension. Furthermore, Outcome control is only helpful with less complex OI projects.

Details

Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 25 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1367-3270

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Article
Publication date: 13 July 2020

Xiaoxiao Shi, Zuolong Zheng, Qingpu Zhang and Huakang Liang

This paper aims to analyze the extent to which the influence of external knowledge search activities on firms’ incremental innovation capability, and the moderating roles…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to analyze the extent to which the influence of external knowledge search activities on firms’ incremental innovation capability, and the moderating roles of the relatedness between the partners’ technological bases and a firm’s network embeddedness in the innovation network.

Design/methodology/approach

In this empirical research, the authors collected a sample of patents in the UAV industry over the period of 2004–2018. Then the authors examined the direct role of external knowledge search on firms’ incremental innovation capability and the joint moderating effects of technological proximity and network embeddedness.

Findings

We found that external knowledge search in innovation networks positively affects firms’ incremental innovation capability. Moreover, we discovered that high technological proximity to other peers positively strengthens the impact of firms’ external knowledge search on their incremental innovation capability. Finally, the findings suggested that the relationship between a firm’s external knowledge search activities and its incremental innovation capability is stronger for high technological proximity coupled with high network centrality or poor structural holes in innovation networks.

Originality/value

This study adds value to open innovation literature by pointing out a positive relationship between external knowledge search and firm incremental innovation capability. Furthermore, this study reinforces the key joint contingent roles of technological proximity and network embeddedness. This study provides a valuable theoretical framework of incremental innovation capability determinants by connecting the different perspectives.

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Article
Publication date: 25 November 2019

Preecha Chaochotechuang, Farhad Daneshgar and Stefania Mariano

The purpose of this paper is to advance knowledge by exploring how small and medium enterprises (SMEs) search for external knowledge in their open innovation processes…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to advance knowledge by exploring how small and medium enterprises (SMEs) search for external knowledge in their open innovation processes, and how the search can be advanced.

Design/methodology/approach

This exploratory research employs a qualitative multiple case study design. A literature review of open innovation in SMEs and external knowledge search is used to build the premises of this study. Semi-structured interviews with eight SMEs are employed to collect subsequent exploratory empirical data.

Findings

This exploratory study revealed that SMEs adopted a combination of cognitive and experiential search heuristics where cognitive search was practiced during the innovation research process when searching for external knowledge, whilst experiential search was practiced during the innovation development process. Concerning the search space, this study found that SMEs mainly explored local knowledge, and occasionally pursued distant knowledge when confronted with complex problems. The reason for the above behavior was explained to be related to the reduction of costs and risks associated with innovation activities.

Originality/value

External knowledge plays a pivotal role in open innovation. Although extant studies have shed some light on how large firms search for external knowledge, however, it is not clear how SMEs search for external knowledge. Moreover, this study focuses on learning about both the search space and the search heuristics at both the research and the development stages of the innovation process.

Details

European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 23 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1460-1060

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Article
Publication date: 31 January 2020

Chunhsien Wang, Tachia Chin and Jie-Heng Lin

Openness to external knowledge has recently gained popularity as a means for firms to complement and leverage internal knowledge in the pursuit of innovation outcomes…

Abstract

Purpose

Openness to external knowledge has recently gained popularity as a means for firms to complement and leverage internal knowledge in the pursuit of innovation outcomes. However, conflicting evidence exists regarding the role of openness in external knowledge acquisition. This paper aims to propose that openness to external knowledge has a nonlinear effect on innovation performance and that this nonlinear relationship is contingent on an ambidextrous knowledge search strategy.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on original large-scale survey of 246 interfirm collaborations in the high-technology industry, it is found that the impact of openness to external knowledge on innovation performance exhibits an inverted-U shape and that this relationship is affected by an ambidextrous knowledge search strategy.

Findings

The results indicate that an ambidextrous knowledge strategy that addresses the depth and breadth of external knowledge significantly influences a firm’s ability to derive benefits from increased openness to external knowledge. Empirically, the authors provide an original contribution to high-technology firms by exploring how and why an ambidextrous knowledge strategy can be a critical catalyst spurring innovation performance.

Research limitations/implications

The research scope is limited to a single industry. Further research could extend the theoretical framework to multiple industries, which may increase the likelihood of innovation theory development.

Practical implications

The results suggest that firms opening up the boundaries of their innovation activity to engage in external knowledge are able to leverage their in-house innovation to enhance their innovation performance. The authors advocate that in innovation management domains, greater emphasis is needed on how openness to external knowledge has more positive impacts not only on innovation performance but also on innovation implemented management.

Originality/value

This study is among the first to investigate the ambidextrous knowledge search effect on the external knowledge of high-technology firms. This paper contributes to the theoretical and practical literature concerning openness innovation and knowledge management by reflecting on the ambidextrous knowledge search strategy.

Details

Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 24 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1367-3270

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Article
Publication date: 5 June 2019

Chunhsien Wang, Min-Nan Chen and Ching-Hsing Chang

The purpose of this paper is to investigate alliance partner diversity (APD) as a driving force that potentially enhances firms’ innovation generation (IG) in interfirm…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate alliance partner diversity (APD) as a driving force that potentially enhances firms’ innovation generation (IG) in interfirm open alliance contexts. The authors propose that APD enhances IG but that the effects depend on both alliance network position and the double-edged external knowledge search strategy. Building on the knowledge-based view and social capital theory, the authors formally model how external knowledge search strategies can lead to productive or destructive acquisitions of external knowledge in interfirm open alliance networks. The authors theorize that when an individual firm adopts a central position in a complex interfirm open alliance network, its propensity toward beneficial IG depends on its knowledge search strategy (i.e. its breadth and depth) due to the joint influence of network position and knowledge search strategy on innovation.

Design/methodology/approach

Using an original large-scale survey of high-tech firms, this study shows that the relationship between partner diversity and IG is contingent on a firm’s network position and knowledge search strategy. The authors also offer an original analysis of how knowledge search strategy (i.e. its breadth and depth) in network centrality (NC) affects the efficacy of knowledge acquisition in interfirm open alliance networks. Empirically, the authors provide an original contribution to the open innovation literature by integrating social capital and knowledge-based theory to rigorously measure firm IG.

Findings

Overall, our findings suggest that the knowledge search strategy imparts a double-edged effect that may promote or interfere with external knowledge in IG in the context of the diversity of alliance partners.

Research limitations/implications

The work has important limitations, such as its analysis of a single industry in the empirical models. Therefore, further studies should consider multiple industries that may provide useful insights into innovation decisions.

Practical implications

External knowledge search is valuable, particularly in the high-tech industry, as external knowledge acquisition generates innovation output. This study serves to raise managers’ awareness of various approaches to external knowledge searches and highlights the importance of network position in knowledge acquisition from interfirm open alliance collaborations.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to investigate the double-edged effect of knowledge search on interfirm open alliance networks. It also contributes to the theoretical and practical literature on interfirm open alliance networks by reflecting on external knowledge search and underlying network centrality and APD factors.

Details

European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 23 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1460-1060

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Article
Publication date: 27 May 2014

Bin Guo and Yueqi Wang

This paper tests which theoretical perspective(s) can better explain firms’ external knowledge search behavior. Information processing and resource-based view theories…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper tests which theoretical perspective(s) can better explain firms’ external knowledge search behavior. Information processing and resource-based view theories propose a positive relationship between environmental turbulence and knowledge search breadth, whereas transaction cost economics and managerial attention theoretical perspectives posit that knowledge search breadth will be negatively influenced by environmental turbulence. In the context of Chinese small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), this study examines the direct effect of environmental turbulence and the interactive effect of environmental turbulence and absorptive capacity (ACAP) on external knowledge search breadth.

Design/methodology/approach

This study adopted firm-level data collected via questionnaires from SMEs within the manufacturing sector in China. The partial least squares method was used to explore the determinants of the external knowledge search breadth of Chinese SMEs.

Findings

The results reveal that external search breadth tends to increase with an increase in a firm’s perceived environmental turbulence. In addition, the interaction between ACAP and environmental turbulence will be negatively related to external knowledge search breadth. The empirical evidence indicates information processing and resource-based view theories are more powerful in explaining the external knowledge search behavior of Chinese SMEs.

Originality/value

Unlike most of the innovation search literature, which have focused on the effect on performance of external search, this study focuses on the antecedents of firms’ innovation search behavior. The study contributes to the understanding of the relationship between environmental turbulence and knowledge search breadth as well as the understanding of the influence of ACAP on external knowledge search in the context of SMEs from emerging economies.

Details

Chinese Management Studies, vol. 8 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1750-614X

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Article
Publication date: 25 January 2019

Xiaoxiao Shi, Qingpu Zhang and Zuolong Zheng

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the inverted U-shaped relationship between external search in the collaboration network and firm innovation outcomes. It also seeks…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the inverted U-shaped relationship between external search in the collaboration network and firm innovation outcomes. It also seeks to explore whether these curvilinear relationships are moderated by the network centrality and structural holes in the knowledge network.

Design/methodology/approach

In this empirical research, the authors collected a sample of patents in the smartphone industry over the period of 2000-2017. Then the authors examined the direct roles of external search breadth and depth in the collaboration network and the moderating role of network embeddedness in the knowledge network by using negative binomial regression.

Findings

Results found that external search in the collaboration network contributes more to firm innovation outcomes when the breadth and depth of the external search are moderate rather than high or low. Furthermore, both network centrality and structural holes in the knowledge network have positive effects on the external search breadth – innovation outcomes and external search depth – innovation outcomes relationships.

Research limitations/implications

The authors collected the patent data within the single industry and excluded other types of industries. This may limit the generalization of the findings.

Practical implications

The paper has practical implications for adopting appropriate search strategies in the collaboration network and developing a better understanding of the effect of network embeddedness in the knowledge network on firm innovation outcomes. The findings suggest future directions for technology-intensive industries to improve their innovation output.

Originality/value

This study adds value to open innovation literature by pointing out a curvilinear relationship (inverted U-shaped) between external search breadth/depth and innovation outcomes in collaboration networks, in contrast to studies focused on firms’ external collaboration strategies in a certain industry context. Furthermore, this study reinforces the key contingent role of embeddedness in knowledge networks. This study provides a valuable theoretical framework of innovation outcome determinants by connecting the network perspective of open innovation theory with an embeddedness view.

Details

Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 23 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1367-3270

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Article
Publication date: 20 September 2019

Zhengyun Rui and Kalle Lyytinen

New ventures search for external knowledge to break through the prevailing knowledge and resource constraints. The influence of search mechanisms can be assessed against…

Abstract

Purpose

New ventures search for external knowledge to break through the prevailing knowledge and resource constraints. The influence of search mechanisms can be assessed against the backdrop of internal factors such as the venture’s knowledge integration (KI) capability. The purpose of this paper is to study the effects of knowledge search depth (KSD) and knowledge search breadth (KSB) on innovation outcomes and asks to what extent such effects are mediated by levels of KI.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors distinguish between the current depth and width of the firm’s knowledge base as to detect their possible moderating effects. The authors test the model using data collected from 167 Chinese start-ups.

Findings

The results show that KSB has a positive effect on KI and innovation performance, but KSD has an inverted U-shaped effect on KI and innovation performance. KI plays a mediating role between external knowledge search and innovation performance, while the breadth of the venture’s knowledge base positively moderates the relationship between explorative KI and innovation performance, and the depth of knowledge base positively moderates the relationship between exploitive KI and innovation performance.

Originality/value

These results differ from earlier research focusing on mature enterprises.

Details

European Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 22 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1460-1060

Keywords

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