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Organizational and technological antecedents for knowledge acquisition and learning

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This paper examines the factors affecting the decision to acquire external technology and the relative importance of different technology acquisition strategies pursued by British and Japanese firms. The paper draws on a study of 38 firms, consisting of 23 UK-based and 15 Japanese firms. This is not a comparative study of British and Japanese technology acquisition strategies. Rather, we aim to identify common factors affecting the decision to acquire external technology and the means by which firms attempt to do this. We identify two clusters of variable which appear to affect the decision to acquire technology. Firstly, an organization's inheritance, which includes corporate strategy, competencies, culture and what we refer to as management's ‘comfort’ with the technology. Secondly, the characteristics of the technology to be acquired, specifically, its competitive impact, complexity, codifiability and what we refer to as ‘credibility’ potential. Together, these factors will determine the degree and nature of technology acquisition strategy. We find that contrary to the present academic preoccupation with alliances and joint ventures, the firms examined ranked universities, research consortia and licensing as the most important sources of external technology.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: The Management School, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of London, 53 Princes Gate, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2PG, UK, 2: Arthur D. Little Inc., Berkeley Square, London, W1X 6EY, UK

Publication date: October 1, 1997

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