Firm's network capability and innovation performance: evidences from China hi-tech industry


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Firm's network capability and innovation performance: evidences from China hi-tech industry
Fang G.
Pigneur Y.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté des hautes études commerciales
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A firm's competitive advantage can arise from internal resources as well as from an interfirm network. -This dissertation investigates the competitive advantage of a firm involved in an innovation network by integrating strategic management theory and social network theory. It develops theory and provides empirical evidence that illustrates how a networked firm enables the network value and appropriates this value in an optimal way according to its strategic purpose. The four inter-related essays in this dissertation provide a framework that sheds light on the extraction of value from an innovation network by managing and designing the network in a proactive manner.
The first essay reviews research in social network theory and knowledge transfer management, and identifies the crucial factors of innovation network configuration for a firm's learning performance or innovation output. The findings suggest that network structure, network relationship, and network position all impact on a firm's performance. Although the previous literature indicates that there are disagreements about the impact of dense or spare structure, as well as strong or weak ties, case evidence from Chinese software companies reveals that dense and strong connections with partners are positively associated with firms' performance.
The second essay is a theoretical essay that illustrates the limitations of social network theory for explaining the source of network value and offers a new theoretical model that applies resource-based view to network environments. It suggests that network configurations, such as network structure, network relationship and network position, can be considered important network resources. In addition, this essay introduces the concept of network capability, and suggests that four types of network capabilities play an important role in unlocking the potential value of network resources and determining the distribution of network rents between partners. This essay also highlights the contingent effects of network capability on a firm's innovation output, and explains how the different impacts of network capability depend on a firm's strategic choices. This new theoretical model has been pre-tested with a case study of China software industry, which enhances the internal validity of this theory.
The third essay addresses the questions of what impact network capability has on firm innovation performance and what are the antecedent factors of network capability. This essay employs a structural equation modelling methodology that uses a sample of 211 Chinese Hi-tech firms. It develops a measurement of network capability and reveals that networked firms deal with cooperation between, and coordination with partners on different levels according to their levels of network capability. The empirical results also suggests that IT maturity, the openness of culture, management system involved, and experience with network activities are antecedents of network capabilities. Furthermore, the two-group analysis of the role of international partner(s) shows that when there is a culture and norm gap between foreign partners, a firm must mobilize more resources and effort to improve its performance with respect to its innovation network.
The fourth essay addresses the way in which network capabilities influence firm innovation performance. By using hierarchical multiple regression with data from Chinese Hi-tech firms, the findings suggest that there is a significant partial mediating effect of knowledge transfer on the relationships between network capabilities and innovation performance. The findings also reveal that the impacts of network capabilities divert with the environment and strategic decision the firm has made: exploration or exploitation. Network constructing capability provides a greater positive impact on and yields more contributions to innovation performance than does network operating capability in an exploration network. Network operating capability is more important than network constructing capability for innovative firms in an exploitation network. Therefore, these findings highlight that the firm can shape the innovation network proactively for better benefits, but when it does so, it should adjust its focus and change its efforts in accordance with its innovation purposes or strategic orientation.
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16/07/2010 14:56
Last modification date
20/08/2019 16:35
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