Interorganizational Innovation: The Role of Suppliers in Enhancing Buyer Innovation
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This dissertation explores the effect of innovative knowledge transfer across supply chain partners. My research seeks to understand the manner by which a firm is able to benefit from the innovative capabilities of its supply chain partners and utilize the external knowledge they hold to increase its own levels of innovation. Specifically, I make use of patent data as a proxy for firm-level innovation and develop both independent and dependent variables from the data contained within the patent filings. I further examine the means by which key dyadic and portfolio supply chain relationship characteristics moderate the relationship between supplier innovation and buyer innovation. I investigate factors such as the degree of transactional reciprocity between the buyer and supplier, the similarity of the firms’ knowledge bases, and specific chain characteristics (e.g., geographic propinquity) to provide greater understanding of the means by which the transfer of innovative knowledge across firms in a supply chain can be enhanced or inhibited.
This dissertation spans three essays to provide insights into the role that supply chain relationships play in affecting a focal firm’s level of innovation. While innovation has been at the core of a wide body of research, very little empirical work exists that considers the role of vertical buyer-supplier relationships on a firm’s ability to develop new and novel innovations. I begin by considering the fundamental unit of analysis within a supply chain, the buyer-supplier dyad. After developing initial insights based on the interactions between singular buyers and suppliers, essay two extends the analysis to consider the full spectrum of a buyer’s supply base by aggregating the individual buyer-supplier dyad level data into firm-supply network level data. Through this broader level of analysis, I am able to examine how the relational characteristics between a buyer firm and its supply base affect its ability to leverage the full portfolio of its suppliers’ innovative knowledge. Finally, in essay three I further extend the analysis to explore the means by which a buyer firm can use its suppliers to enhance its ability to access distant knowledge held by other organizations that the buyer is only connected to indirectly through its suppliers.