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Network-Independent Partner Selection and the Evolution of Innovation Networks

Joel A. C. Baum, Robin Cowan and Nicolas Jonard
Management Science
Vol. 56, No. 11 (November 2010), pp. 2094-2110
Published by: INFORMS
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40959575
Page Count: 17
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Network-Independent Partner Selection and the Evolution of Innovation Networks
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Abstract

Empirical research on strategic alliances has focused on the idea that partners are selected on the basis of social capital considerations. In this paper we emphasize instead the role of complementary knowledge stocks and knowledge dynamics, which have received surprisingly limited attention relative to social capital as forces behind the formation and dynamics of innovation networks. To marshal evidence in this regard, we design a simple model of partner selection in which firms ally for the purpose of learning and innovating, and in doing so create an industry network. We abstract completely from network-based structural and strategic motives for partner selection and focus instead on the idea that firms' knowledge bases must "fit" for joint learning and innovation to be possible, and thus for an alliance to be feasible. The striking result is that, despite containing no social capital considerations, this simple model replicates the firm conduct, network structure, and contingent effects of network position on performance observed and discussed in the empirical literature.

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