صلاحیت نوآورانه، اکتشاف و بهره برداری: تاثیر تنوع فن آوری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|20087||2008||16 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Research Policy, Volume 37, Issue 3, April 2008, Pages 492–507
This paper investigates how technological diversification influences the rate and specific types of innovative competence. We test a set of hypotheses in a longitudinal study of a sample of biotechnology firms. Our findings provide strong support for the premise that a diversified technology base positively affects innovative competence. Furthermore, technological diversification is found to have a stronger effect on exploratory than on exploitative innovative capability. This empirical evidence suggests that technological diversity may mitigate core rigidities and path dependencies by enhancing novel solutions that accelerate the rate of invention, especially that which departs from a firm's past activities.
Over the last few decades, firms and industries have witnessed technological diversification due to increases in the complexity of products (Rosenberg, 1976, Giuri et al., 2002 and Breschi et al., 2003). The range of disciplines relevant to firms’ innovative processes is expanding in both breadth (the number of relevant disciplines) and depth (their sophistication and specialization) (Wang and von Tunzelmann, 2000). For developing product innovation, firms use various scientific and technological sources, embodying different characteristics and aiming at different corners of the market (Dosi, 1988). Such “technological diversification” can be defined as the diversity in the knowledge system and principles underlying the nature of products and their methods of production. It is related to a corporation's expansion of its technological competence into a broader range of technical and discipline areas (Granstrand and Oskarsson, 1994, p. 355), although such expansion does not necessarily have to be associated with product diversification (Granstrand et al., 1997, Gambardella and Torrisi, 1998 and Andersen and Walsh, 2000). In general, technological diversification has only recently attracted the attention of researchers (Granstrand, 1998, Gemba and Kodama, 2001 and Suzuki and Kodama, 2004). At the firm level, analyzing samples of large companies (many of them related to the information and communication technology sector), some descriptive studies have empirically demonstrated that, nowadays, multi-field competency and technological diversity is the dominant feature (Rao et al., 2004, Mendoça, 2006 and Palmberg and Martikainen, 2006). Another group of works provides interesting insights into the relationship between technological diversification and some organizational dimensions such as size, product diversification or corporate internationalization (Cantwell and Piscitello, 2000, Cantwell and Santangelo, 2000, Piscitello, 2000 and Le Bas and Patel, 2004). For example, Piscitello, 2000 and Piscitello, 2004 and Valvano and Vannoni (2003), examining patenting activities of large and leading industrial companies, confirm that technological diversification does not proceed in a random way but coherently. Moreover, coherence of corporate diversification strategies, which positively influences economic performance, is higher when firms are active in sectors sharing similar technological resources. Particularly, there has been little research on how technological diversification affects innovation performance (Nesta and Saviotti, 2005 and Garcia-Vega, 2006). These studies find that diversification of the technology base enhances R&D intensity and the number of patents. The aim of this paper is to advance in the knowledge of the impact of technological diversity on innovation. This investigation is novel as it explores, in a particular high-technology sector, the influence of a diversified technology portfolio on specific types of innovative capabilities: exploitation and exploration. Exploitative innovation is based on intensive search, which means experimentation along an existing knowledge dimension. Exploration is rooted in extensive search that pursues potential new knowledge (March, 1991). Exploitative innovation improves the methods or materials used to achieve the firm's objectives of profitability and satisfying customer needs. In contrast, exploratory technological innovation involves novel methods or materials that are derived either from a completely different knowledge base or from a recombination of parts of the firms’ established knowledge base with a new stream of knowledge (Freeman and Soete, 1997). Based on evolutionary theory and organizational learning research (Dosi, 1982, Nelson and Winter, 1982, March, 1991 and Levinthal and March, 1993), we test a set of hypotheses about how technological diversification enables organizations to improve their innovative capacity and influences exploratory and exploitative inventions in a different way. We address this issue because is relevant for theory and practice. From the technology management perspective, compared to concentration, developing a diverse R&D portfolio implies integrating new technical staff, assimilating new technological knowledge (Lee and Allen, 1982), and, in general, a more complex process of building research competences. Consequently, technological diversification constitutes a critical decision especially in high-technology industries where research projects demand large investment and developing successful innovations can take several years. On the other hand, evidence to improve our understanding of how a diversified technology base influences particular types of innovative capabilities is relevant for organizational learning theory. Search with high scope enriches the firm's knowledge base by adding distinctive new variations (Fleming, 2001 and Katila and Ahuja, 2002). However, extremely high levels of technological diversity may damage the desired balance or combination between exploitation and exploration (March, 1991 and Levinthal and March, 1993), and hence, the firm's capacity for sustaining its competitive position through mixed processes of knowledge creation, adaptation and consolidation. The paper is in four sections. First, we present the theoretical framework. After a section on research methodology to test the hypotheses, the results from a sample of biotechnology companies in a longitudinal study are offered. Finally, the findings are discussed and areas of future research are proposed.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The main aim of this paper was to examine the influence of the breadth of technological knowledge on different types of innovation. Our empirical study focused on a particular high-technology sector where innovation processes demand the integration of a wide range of skills and technical disciplines to promote the development of new products. This study has theoretical implications for the organizational learning theory, and it represents an advance in the understanding of the route to specific sorts of innovative capability. Our findings provide strong support for the premise that a diversified technology portfolio positively and significantly affects a firm's competence to innovate. Our result demonstrates that introducing new technologies into the firm's knowledge system favors the search for complementarities and novel solutions that increase the rate of invention and avoid learning traps. This evidence supports the theoretical notion that it is valuable to create inventories of competencies to permit effective utilization of the new knowledge, and positively influence the accumulation of absorptive capacity that allows the firm to predict the nature and commercial potential of technology advances and to exploit technological opportunities (Cohen and Levinthal, 1990 and Levinthal and March, 1993). Technologically diversified companies have more strategic options in terms of purchase, licensing, and alliances and internal development to build research competences and generate innovations. Accordingly, a high level of technological diversification may be a necessary condition for firms to sustain their competitive advantage. Moreover, this study contributes to knowledge on the effects of technological diversification on exploitation and exploration. The scope of technological resources is found to have a stronger effect on exploratory than on exploitative innovative capability. Hence, different approaches of technological diversity precede different innovative outcomes. Our findings suggest that exploratory invention requires more information processing and exposure to a variety of technological knowledge domains. The different points of view, backgrounds, and types of training inherent in a diversified technological knowledge base facilitate complex problem solving, the generation of new ideas and novel combinations, and hence the development of exploratory innovative competence. The synthesis of different perspectives permits a better understanding of new technical processes, encouraging their adoption. Scope economies and knowledge depth are less important for incremental innovation because its adoption requires less knowledge resources in the organization for development or support. Although any type of innovation process entails substantive change, exploitation is focused on improving efficiency within an existing technological trajectory. Our study has implications for practice. Managers should recognize that developing a broad technological knowledge base to incorporate sources of variation and novel combinations is more likely to yield a greater impact on exploratory than on exploitative invention. This assumption has important implications and creates a dilemma for the design of formal R&D programs. Exploration and exploitation imply specific decision and adoption processes that involve different levels of risk and ambiguity. Diversifying the technological knowledge base to improve exploratory innovative competence requires greater investment in different research projects, and in information processing and integration mechanisms to ensure the cross-fertilization and combination of different technologies. A high degree of technological diversification may become a source of information overload implying high coordination and communication costs. The level of such investment will be lowest when the firm uses known procedures and accumulated experience. In consequence, compared to exploitation, returns from exploration are more remote in time, distant, and uncertain. Exploitation provides efficient solutions and supports current organizational viability through near and clear returns. However, exploration improves the ability to adapt to a changing environment because it increases the variance of organizational activities (McGrath, 2001). Because of the changing nature of innovation requirements embedded in technology cycles, firms must develop capabilities to balance exploration and exploitation. It is necessary to promote a strategic integration between different research projects establishing new cognitive models for exploration, while allowing experiential learning to improve efficiency. Accordingly with the firm's specific goals related to such a balance, managers should examine whether the firm has the necessary technologies (and other resources) to develop particular levels of innovative competence, and to determine which technologies need to be built. We recognize several limitations of this study. It is limited by its focus on the biotechnology sector. It has unique characteristics that raise questions about the generalization of our conclusions. It would be of interest to extend this research to other industries, and thus to identify sectoral differences in the importance of technological diversification, and its impact on a firm's innovation performance. Another limitation comes from using patent data to measure the main variables as we explained in Section 3. Combining secondary source with information collected through questionnaires, to study the mentioned question would be interesting. Additionally, with this method, we would try to highlight the different impacts on innovative capability of specific sources of technological diversity. These findings would have managerial implications about how firms can optimally configure the combinations of those sources to generate different levels of exploratory and exploitative innovative competences. Another subject into which this study can be extended is the examination of how the coherence of the technology base (Christensen, 2002 and Breschi et al., 2003) influences innovative capability. This analysis should be connected to evolutionary models of technical change (Dosi, 1982, Nelson and Winter, 1982 and Sahal, 1985), because the requirements of a firm's level of technological specialization or diversification may depend on the evolution and maturity of the technological domain. Our research contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between a diversified technological knowledge base and specific types of innovative competence. The findings have theoretical and managerial implications since they demonstrate that variance seeking may affect the balance between exploitation and exploration. These results provide the motivation to continue the study of some unexplored issues related to the effects of different sources of technological diversity, relatedness of knowledge components and evolution of technological trajectories, which constitute promising streams for future research.