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Knowledge integration in the shadow of tacit spillovers: Empirical evidence from U.S. R&D labs

Roberto Venturini, Marco Ceccagnoli and Nicolas van Zeebroeck ()

Research Policy, 2019, vol. 48, issue 1, 180-205

Abstract: Integrating knowledge across a firm's value chain (e.g. between R&D, marketing and manufacturing functions), which we denote “Knowledge Integration” (KI), has been consistently found to be a strong predictor of product innovation performance in the management literature. Such cross-functional integration does not occur by chance, but by design, as a result of managerial practices and organizational arrangements. The significant heterogeneity characterizing the diffusion of cross-functional integration across firms is suggestive of the well-known tension between internal and external diffusion of knowledge. In this paper, we argue that the hidden cost of KI is to expose firms to a higher risk of knowledge leakages and provide the first systematic empirical evidence of this apparent tension between internal and external knowledge flows. Based on data from the CMU Survey (one of the rare datasets offering observables on both sides of the tension for a representative set of R&D active firms in the US), we investigate the impact of knowledge spillovers to competitors on internal cross-functional knowledge integration involving the R&D function among manufacturing firms. We find that the intensity of (tacit) R&D knowledge spillovers at the industry-level has a negative and significant impact on the likelihood that firms adopt or achieve KI. Our results therefore suggest that firms may trade their optimal innovative performance against superior appropriability of their rents.

Keywords: Knowledge integration; Knowledge spillovers; Managerial practices adoption (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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