Recombining for breakthroughs : the role of the alliance network, portfolio, and partners
Faculty of Applied Economics
Academy of Management Proceedings & Membership Directory
Current research stressed the role of established firms in the creation of breakthroughs. The role of interfirm collaboration has been discussed extensively regarding the innovative performance of firms, but remains understudied regarding breakthroughs. This paper aims to explain how established firms create breakthroughs by considering how and who to reach through external collaboration. How to reach is illustrated by different firm positions in the network structure. Who to reach focuses on attributes of alliance partners that enable a firm to create breakthroughs. Regarding who to reach, we differentiate between the diversity of the set of external knowledge resources and the breakthrough experience of partners. The empirical setting for this study is the biopharmaceutical industry, with a sample that consists of the yearly hundred largest companies since 1985. Results indicate that semi-peripheral firms in the industry network are most likely to generate breakthroughs as compared to peripheral and central firms. Furthermore, the effects of network position and partner breakthrough experience are larger in terms of effect sizes than the effect of external knowledge diversity on breakthroughs. Conclusively, the alliance network position, the composition of the alliance portfolio, and alliance partner attributes are important concerning the creation of breakthroughs.