The role of frequent engagement in alliances in firm likelihood to patent: First wave alliances in UK bio-pharmaceuticals

Filiou, Despoina; Tusselmann, Heinz and Green, Lawrence (2020). The role of frequent engagement in alliances in firm likelihood to patent: First wave alliances in UK bio-pharmaceuticals. European Journal of Innovation Management (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/EJIM-12-2018-0266

Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of alliance experience in firm innovation; it argues that, while cumulative alliance experience has a marginally diminishing contribution to likelihood of firm innovation over time, frequent engagement in alliances and an expanding alliance portfolio inhabit an enhancing role. This reveals new dimensions to the role of alliance experience as an antecedent to firm learning in managing alliances and to the development of alliance capabilities.

Design/methodology/approach
The paper estimates a range of models identifying the relationship between alliance experience and firm innovation. The panel data sample captures the full range of firms active in the UK bio-pharmaceuticals sector during the early stages of its development observing them from 1991 to 2001. An exploratory case study analysis is employed to shed light on the nuanced factors linking frequent engagement in alliances to the development of practices for efficient alliance management.

Findings
The paper shows that cumulative alliance experience has a marginally diminishing contribution to likelihood of firm innovation over time, while frequent engagement in alliances and the ensuing expansion of alliance portfolios enhance firm innovation. The exploratory case analysis demonstrates a link between frequent engagement in alliances and the development of processes for alliance management that could collectively reflect alliance capabilities.

Originality/value
Contribution derives from a longitudinal analysis of an original panel data set that maps the UK bio-pharmaceuticals sector over the initial period of its development. The paper sheds light on factors that can compel firms to form alliance capabilities, and extends a currently thin body of work on the foundations and antecedents to alliance and alliance portfolio capabilities.

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