The bumpy road of technology partnerships: Understanding causes and consequences of partnership mal-functioning

Boris Lokshin, John Hagedoorn & Wilko Letterie


Research on technological partnerships has traditionally sought explanation of their high failure rates in partner characteristics and relationship features. This study introduces the notion of a 'bumpy road' in technology partnerships which refers to undesired outcomes such as 'partnership mal-functioning' and 'instability' to the degree to which innovation activities are hampered. We explain how firm-level strategies can reduce the probability of a 'bumpy road' in partnerships. We also assess the impact of this 'bumpy road' on innovative performance. We find that firms that excel in diversification of external activities (in terms of different types of partners) perform best. Moreover, a persistent product oriented innovation strategy geared at developing new products, new markets, or higher product quality will yield more stable partnership outcomes. Our results confirm that engagement in partnerships is beneficial for innovative performance. However, firms that experienced a 'bumpy road' in their technological partnerships have to pay a price in terms of a negative effect on their innovative performance. (160 words)

Keywords: R&D Collaboration; Technological performance; Innovation; alliance failure

JEL classification: O31; O32

UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872

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