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Exploring the internal and external venturing of large R&D-intensive firms

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Abstract:

We explore the realized strategies of large R&D-intensive firms through a venturing lens, focusing on two industries: pharmaceuticals and high-technology equipment manufacturing. Specifically, we examine changes in strategy over time along two critical dimensions: (1) focus of venturing, i.e., internally vs externally oriented, and (2) learning orientation i.e., explorative vs exploitative. Our empirical analysis is based on news stories relating to six large, R&D-intensive firms over a 6-year period. The findings suggest the following: (1) exploration is more prevalent than exploitation in both pharmaceuticals and high-technology equipment manufacturing, but pharmaceuticals have a greater preference for internal venturing than high-technology equipment manufacturing; (2) three firm-level venturing strategy types can be discerned, which are independent of the specific industry; and (3) change in realized strategy is a dynamic capability facilitated by firm-level factors. These results, albeit explorative, emphasize venturing in R&D industries as a dynamic capability that is influenced by firm-level characteristics rather than industry membership.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9310.2009.00553.x

Affiliations: 1: Strategy and Marketing Section, Amsterdam Business School, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Plantage Muidergracht 12, 1018 TV Amsterdam, The Netherlands., Email: c.williams@uva.nl 2: Department of Management, Birkbeck College, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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