The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Organizational Networks and Technological Change

Henri Schildt

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management for public examination and debate in Auditorium TU1 at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 9th of December, 2006, at 12 noon.

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Strategic networks and other external relationships of firms have become an eminent topic in strategic management. External relationships have been argued to provide firms knowledge and thereby foster inventiveness. This dissertation addresses the influence of organizational networks and pre-existing knowledge base on technological change in business firms through five publications describing independent empirical studies. This dissertation contributes to theory by developing and testing hypothesis that relate characteristics of network relationship to quantity, type, and timing of inventions.

The first research paper examines the creation of explorative and exploitative inventions from knowledge obtained through external relationship. The results support the predictions that tight integration, technological relatedness, and partner in customer industries decrease the likelihood of explorative outcomes. The findings are based on a logistic regression analysis of a longitudinal dataset, consisting of 110 largest U.S. public ICT companies and their external corporate ventures and patents.

The second paper investigates the timing of inventions in external relationships. A novel research setting shows that the industry-relatedness and form of external relationships influences the timing of inventions. Most importantly, high research and development spending enables the firm to exploit partner's knowledge more rapidly. Results are based on a data set derived from the first study and analyzed using a longitudinal negative binomial regression model.

The third paper links firms' external relationships to their rate of innovative output. The findings show systematic differences in the benefits accruing from different forms of relationship and levels of relatedness. Most importantly, partners in related industries provided greater benefits than intra-industry and unrelated partners. The analysis is based on negative binomial panel model and utilizes data derived from the first two studies.

The fourth paper examines the role of intra-industry social networks and technological specialization on the tendency to utilize proprietary knowledge as a basis for future inventions. Social centrality is associated with increased tendency for re-use of prior own knowledge in peripheral technological areas, while decreasing knowledge re-use in central technological areas. Inventions in more central technological areas are re-used more commonly. Contrary to earlier findings, I do not find a significant relationship between innovation team social centrality and the subsequent impact of the invention. The analysis is based on 450 innovation reports and related patents of a corporate R&D center. I use Tobit, linear, and negative binomial regression models.

The last paper applies the literature on local search to explain the choice of acquisition targets. As expected, the proximity of two companies in terms of alliances, country co-location, and technological similarity is associated with higher acquisition likelihood. However, these search contexts moderate one-other: companies tend to acquire technologically similar foreign firms and technologically dissimilar alliance partners. The analysis is conducted using on rare events logistic regression models with a dyadic longitudinal dataset based on 167 acquisitions in the global pharmaceuticals industry.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 5 publications:

  1. Henri A. Schildt, Markku V. J. Maula, and Thomas Keil. 2005. Explorative and exploitative learning from external corporate ventures. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice 29, number 4, pages 493-515.
  2. Henri A. Schildt, Thomas Keil, and Markku V. J. Maula. 2006. The timing of knowledge flows in interorganizational relationships. Proceedings of the 2006 Academy of Management Annual Meeting, best papers section, CD-ROM.
  3. Thomas Keil, Markku Maula, and Henri Schildt. 2003. Corporate venturing modes and their impact on corporate learning. Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Entrepreneurship Research Conference. Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research 2003, Best Paper Awards section, pages 471-485. © 2003 by authors.
  4. Henri Schildt. 2006. Local search behavior in a corporate R&D center: the role of social centrality and technological specialization. Helsinki University of Technology, Institute of Strategy and International Business, Working Paper no. 2006/2. Espoo, Finland, 29 pages. © 2006 by author.
  5. Henri A. Schildt and Tomi Laamanen. 2006. Who buys whom: information environments and organizational boundary spanning through acquisitions. Strategic Organization 4, number 2, pages 111-133. © 2006 SAGE Publications. By permission.

Keywords: organizational networks, technological change, external relationship, business, firms, inventions, companies, knowledge utilization, acquisitions, industry

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© 2006 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26