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How to learn in R&D partnerships?

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In this article a set of determinants of organisational learning and result appropriation are identified and then tested on a sample of Research and Development (R&D) consortia. The literature review and an exploratory case study highlight the main factors which favour learning and the appropriation of knowledge. The case study observes the organisational learning processes at work in three R&D partnerships entered into by a European high technology firm.

Six hypotheses are formulated. They pertain to the link between the firm's learning and exploitation capabilities. The hypotheses relate to (1) trust between partners, (2) R&D integration in the firm, (3) the access to adequate complementary assets, (4) the member's involvement and motivation in the cooperative process, (5) its own experience in R&D, and (6) the number of partners in the consortium. These hypotheses are tested on a sample of 317 R&D consortia in the European EUREKA initiative.

The results show that a firm's internal organisation and the level of trust between partners influence learning and result appropriation. However, the determinants vary according to the kind of outcome (tangible knowledge, new products/processes, improved products/processes, intangible knowledge). With the knowledge that alliances are increasingly becoming a necessity for firms involved in technology, a better understanding of how to benefit from R&D partnerships can only improve firms’ competitiveness in the future.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, 2: University of Paris X-Nanterre, France

Publication date: 1998-10-01

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