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Innovation, Collaboration, and the International Firm

By Michael Hargreaves


In the lead up to the Year 2000 crash of publicly traded high-technology equities, Information Communication Technology (ICT) Companies proudly displayed inter-firm allegiances on their newly created websites. These collaborative relationships were in reality licensing agreements to develop or market new products internationally. Phenomena associated with ICT product development - collaboration, innovation, and internationalisation - are the core tenets of the accompanying dissertation. Leading scholars have suggested these phenomena challenge conventional economic theories of the firm. This study commences with tracing the evolution of trade and production theories from absolute advantage through to competitive advantage and introduces the concepts of non-adversarial collaborative advantage. Within the framework of the technology cycle, this dissertation then seeks to answer why firms engage in international collaborative innovation. The cycle of technological innovation is investigated and this leads to postulating a period of technological overlap and its implications for collaboration. One of the shortcomings acknowledged in the literature is the generic application of the term collaboration to cover a wide scope of inter-firm agreements. Within the literature this is referred to as a problem of multidimensionality. A model is developed in this dissertation that identifies the choices available to the firm and addresses the problem of defining collaboration. The choices provided in the developed model are more complex than simply choosing between external and internal intermediate markets. As a separable form of industry organisation, the success rates of alliance collaboration are compared to Mergers and Acquisitions (M&As) to validate issues of sustainability before examining the impact of location on innovation and collaboration. Again, theory is tested by recent events that require explanation. These events include the relocation of early stage foreign R&D to both developed and lesser-developed nations. The final chapter assesses the findings throughout this study and identifies separate and distinct roles for large and small firms in the international and collaborative commercialisation of new innovations. This central conclusion requires empirical validation and suggests the need investigate how firms shape the cycle of innovation from a reflected vantage point to the evolutionary perspective taken in this study. Further research is warranted because the literature on international innovation and collaboration is at an early stage and gaps in understanding remain

Topics: Alliances, Appropriation, Collaboration, Conglomerate, Evolutionary Theory, Externalisation, Firm, Industry, Information Communication Technology, ICT, Innovation, Internationalisation, Internalisation, Mergers & Acquisitions, M&As. Multinational Firm, Organisation Theory, Product Cycle, Production Theory R&D, Technology Cycle, Trade Theory
Publisher: Queensland University of Technology
Year: 2004
OAI identifier:

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