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Structure and Performance of Global R&D Networks

Andreas Herrmann & Adam Tatarynowicz

abstract Within interfirm R&D networks, frequently taking on the structure consistent with the graph-theoretic notion of a small world, two topologically distinct types of ties are usually observed: the local ties which connect firms into several clusters characterized by high density and high closure, and the less prevalent bridging ties which go beyond these clusters, creating shortcuts between companies belonging to disparate cliques and therefore oftentimes positioned in quite distant regions of the network.

In my research, I highlight this distinction and verify its hold in different industrial settings. Subsequently, I focus on assessing whether forming a bridging tie to a spatially and cognitively remote partner may have a more positive impact on the performance of the partnering firm than building a local link to one of its nearest neighbors. In the final step, I propose that a successful alliance strategy should involve identifying which of the two link types would be more optimal at the given point in time. Only after such a decision has been made and a group of candidate firms lying within the correct "reach" of the focal firm has been isolated, can the actual partner search begin. For the focal firm, this generates two normative issues:
(1) How to decide, given a whole set of boundary conditions, whether a bridging-tie or a local-tie strategy should be followed?
(2) How to identify, given the firm’s perception of its surrounding alliance network, which ties would be local and potentially redundant and which would result in new opportunities otherwise unavailable in the immediate circle of contacts?
   
keywords
   
partner
type applied research project
status completed
start of project 2004
end of project 2005
additional informations Aufenthaltsort: MERIT Institute, Maastricht und Eindhoven
Referenten: Prof. Dr. Andreas Herrmann (ZBM-HSG), Prof. Dr. Georg von Krogh (IfB-HSG)
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