Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Corporate scientists as the triggers of transitions towards firms' exploration research strategies

Barge-Gil, Andres and D'Este, Pablo and Herrera, Liliana (2018): Corporate scientists as the triggers of transitions towards firms' exploration research strategies.

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Abstract

Exploration-oriented research strategies represent a critical factor for firms’ innovation performance and long term survival since they influence the capacity of these organizations to develop breakthrough innovations and move up the quality ladder of product development. However, setting in motion and sustaining exploratory research strategies are not straightforward. In this study, we contend that the availability of corporate scientists (i.e. personnel with PhD qualifications in R&D units) is a triggering factor for two critical transitions in firms’ R&D strategies: i) initiation of exploration-oriented research activities (exploration-enacting strategy); and ii) increased commitment to exploration-oriented research activities (exploration-deepening strategy). We conduct our analysis on a large sample of Spanish manufacturing firms. We address endogeneity concerns by using the exogenous supply of PhD graduates as an instrumental variable. Our results show that firms recruiting doctoral graduates (PhDs) to their R&D units increase the likelihood of initiating and strengthening exploration-oriented research strategies. The implications of these findings for innovation management and policy are discussed.

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