Session 136

Innovating and Learning in Collaborative Alliances

Track I

Date: Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Time: 08:00 – 09:15

Common Ground

Room: Plaza Court 3


  • Corey Phelps, McGill University
  • Laura Poppo, University of Kansas

Title: Alliances and Individuals: Thoughts on Micro-Foundations for Inter-Firm Knowledge Transfer


  • Xinlu Qiu, Norwegian School of Economics
  • Sven Haugland, Norwegian School of Economics

Abstract: Knowledge transfer in alliances is a complex phenomenon and successful transfer is often not easy to achieve. Prior research has explored the effects of partners’ learning intent, absorptive capacity, trust, and governance on inter-firm knowledge transfer as antecedents to explain knowledge transfer performance in alliance. Little understanding has yet been gained concerning how interface employees in alliances influence the inter-firm knowledge transfer process. There is a gap in research at the micro-level of boundary spanners’ actions and their interaction, concerning the ‘micro-foundations’ of knowledge transfer in alliances. The purpose of this paper is to raise issues in developing micro-foundations and inter-firm knowledge transfer. Moreover, we highlight opportunities for future research of applying theory of mind and regulatory focus theory to inter-firm collaboration studies.

Title: Inter-Organizational Collaboration, Search Heuristics, and Knowledge Work: The Path of Trust to Innovation


  • Laura Poppo, University of Kansas
  • Zheng Cheng, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Abstract: In this proposal, we showcase the role of trust, but recast its traditional role as a ‘social lubricant’ facilitating performance, to that of an efficient and effective search heuristic of knowledge hosts, which results in greater knowledge work (acquiring and sharing knowledge) and thus innovation. Our unique contribution is not only showing that trust as a heuristic can economize on the search for knowledge hosts, but also that the type of trust informs which type of knowledge is likely to be shared, tacit or explicit knowledge. We empirically test these ideas in the context of non-equity contractual partnerships, the dominant organizational form used among businesses to conduct R&D, and our preliminary results show support for our conceptual model.

Title: Is There Life After Death?: Exploring Interfirm Knowledge Building Post Alliance Exit


  • Heidi Kruger, ESADE Business School
  • Paul Almeida, Georgetown University
  • Pedro Parada, ESADE Business School

Abstract: Theory and evidence on alliance dissolution rates (Kogut, 1988) reveal the temporal nature of interfirm collaboration. Alliances can provide preferential access to external knowledge held by partner firms (Grant & Baden-Fuller, 2004), but access may not be instantaneously removed with the dissolution of an agreement. In this study we seek to understand, under what conditions do alliance partners continue to build on one another’s knowledge bases in the post-exit period? Drawing upon our fieldwork and extant literature, we develop hypotheses and describe the preliminary quantitative work for future testing. This study will further understanding of strategic alliances by providing coverage of the complete alliance process, extending beyond antecedents, formation and causes of dissolution to include the subsequent knowledge implications for alliance partners.

Title: Knowledge Boundary Effects of Alliance Portfolio Configuration


  • Zhengyu Li, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics

Abstract: Is a firm’s knowledge boundary affected by the knowledge configuration of its alliance portfolio? Under what circumstances does a firm stop acquiring knowledge from its alliance partners to expand its knowledge boundary? We matched alliance information with complete patent records of Chinese firms, to examine how their own knowledge boundaries are affected by the exposure to alliance partners’ knowledge. While prior research suggests that leveraging knowledge with greater cognitive distance can help a firm overcoming local search, we find, surprisingly, that an increase in the cognitive distance between a firm and its partners leads to a gradually specialized knowledge base of the firm. Such effect becomes less pronounced only when the focal firm has either higher absorptive capacity or greater commitment to its alliances.

Title: Profiting from Collaborative Innovation: How Do Resource Commitment and Participant Diversity Matter?


  • Haiyang Li, Rice University
  • Jade Lo, Drexel University
  • Toby Li, Rice University

Abstract: In this study, we examine the conditions under which the costs of collaborative innovation will outweigh its benefits. We propose that while resource commitment will increase the performance of collaborative innovation, this positive relationship will be weakened when participating firms have more diverse industry backgrounds because of incentive concerns. We further argue that the negative interaction effect of resource commitment and participant diversity on innovation performance is depending up the trust level among the participating firms as well as the nature of the project task. With a unique dataset from the ATP, we found that empirical support for our arguments.

Title: The Internal Coexistence of High Velocity Innovation and Diversification: A Moderation Model


  • Cristina Vlas, University of Texas-Dallas
  • Radu Vlas, University of Houston-Clear Lake

Abstract: While steady innovativeness is mandatory in high-growth industries, does the velocity of such exploration impede or support firms’ performance? We examine both the effects of internal diversity and exploration’s velocity on firms’ future performance. Drawing on organizational learning literature, we uncover contingencies such as young tenure and high technology intensity as important factors moderating the performance implications of high speed innovation. Our analysis of 324 US based software firms over a time span of 12 years reveals that both maintaining a moderate level of diversity and maximizing technology intensity to enhance velocity, boost firms’ performance.

All Sessions in Track I...

Sun: 08:00 – 09:15
Session 276: K&I Sunday Panel: Big Data & Analytics in Strategy
Sun: 09:45 – 11:00
Session 277: K&I Foundations Session: A Conversation with Dan Levinthal
Sun: 11:15 – 12:30
Session 278: K&I Sunday Panel: Knowledge and Innovation in models of Business Models
Sun: 16:15 – 17:30
Session 104: Resource Allocation and Innovation
Session 261: Knowledge Creation and Sharing in Virtual Communities
Sun: 17:45 – 00:00
Session 317: Knowledge and Innovation Business Meeting
Mon: 08:00 – 09:15
Session 62: Multi-level perspectives on capability development
Session 105: Sourcing Strategies for Knowledge
Session 256: Innovation and the Strategy-Performance Relationship
Mon: 11:15 – 12:30
Session 203: Post Acquisition Learning
Session 204: Acquiring human capital: Process and outcomes
Mon: 13:45 – 15:00
Session 107: Evolving Industries, Evolving Products
Session 205: Knowledge Recombination and Interdependencies
Mon: 16:45 – 18:00
Session 100: Innovation Management in Networks, Ecosystems, and Innovation Hubs
Session 200: Strategic Leadership, Learning, and Exploration
Tue: 08:00 – 09:15
Session 136: Innovating and Learning in Collaborative Alliances
Session 255: Processes for Innovation and Ideation
Tue: 11:00 – 12:15
Session 101: Strategic Patenting
Session 137: Entrepreneurial Experience and Cognition: Implications for Venture Performance
Tue: 14:15 – 15:30
Session 198: Emerging Market Strategies
Session 206: Knowledge Replication, Transfer and Absorption
Tue: 15:45 – 17:00
Session 17: Human Capital and Entrepreneurship
Session 108: Open Innovation: Antecedents and Performance Effects
Session 262: Pioneering Knowledge
Tue: 17:30 – 18:45
Session 60: Blurring the Boundaries of Strategy Work
Session 202: Team Dynamics and Creativity
Session 271: Spinouts

Strategic Management Society