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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

Keywords

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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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