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Balancing Internal and External Knowledge Acquisition: The Gains and Pains from R&D Outsourcing

Christoph Grimpe and Ulrich Kaiser ()

Journal of Management Studies, 2010, vol. 47, issue s2, 1483-1509

Abstract: The outsourcing of research and development (R&D) activities has frequently been characterized as an important instrument to acquire external technological knowledge that is subsequently integrated into a firm's own knowledge base. However, in this paper we argue that these 'gains' from R&D outsourcing need to be balanced against the 'pains' that stem from a dilution of firm-specific resources, the deterioration of integrative capabilities and the high demands on management attention. Based on a panel dataset of innovating firms in Germany, we find evidence for an inverse U-shaped relationship between R&D outsourcing and innovation performance. This relationship is positively moderated by the extent to which firms engage in internal R&D and by the breadth of formal R&D collaborations: both serve as an instrument to increase the effectiveness of R&D outsourcing. Copyright (c) 2010 ZEW Centre for European Economic Research. Journal of Management Studies (c) 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and Society for the Advancement of Management Studies.

Date: 2010
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