Direct and Mediated Ties to Universities: ‘Scientific’ Absorptive Capacity and Innovation Performance of Pharmaceutical Firms

46 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2015

See all articles by René Belderbos

René Belderbos

University of Leuven (KUL) - Department of Managerial Economics, Strategy and Innovation; Maastricht University - Department of Organization & Strategy

Victor A. Gilsing

Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) - Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS); Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM); Ministerie van Economische Zaken

Shinya Suzuki

National Institute of Science and Technology Policy of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

Extant literature on firm-university collaboration has emphasized two different strategies that firms in science based industries adopt in order to source scientific knowledge and expertise. On the one hand, firms engage in direct research collaborations with universities. On the other hand, firms establish indirect, mediated, ties to universities by engaging in research collaborations with dedicated biotech firms (DBFs) that are themselves strongly linked to universities - with the DBF taking the role of ‘broker’. We argue that the relative benefits of direct and mediated ties depend on the extent to which firms have organized their R&D to facilitate the absorption, assimilation, transformation and exploitation of scientific knowledge, which we coin ‘scientific absorptive capacity’. Drawing on patent and publication data in a panel of 33 vertically integrated pharmaceutical firms, we find that direct university collaboration is more beneficial for firms with relatively high scientific absorptive capacity, while only mediated ties are associated with greater innovative performance for firms with relatively low scientific absorptive capacity. The latter association is reduced if the mediated ties are with top universities. Our findings are suggestive of the importance of a ‘fit’ between the nature of a firm’s R&D organization and its strategy to access scientific knowledge.

Keywords: R&D collaboration, alliance portfolios, industry-science linkages, scientific absorptive capacity

Suggested Citation

Belderbos, Rene and Gilsing, Victor A. and Suzuki, Shinya, Direct and Mediated Ties to Universities: ‘Scientific’ Absorptive Capacity and Innovation Performance of Pharmaceutical Firms (2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2655526 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2655526

Rene Belderbos (Contact Author)

University of Leuven (KUL) - Department of Managerial Economics, Strategy and Innovation ( email )

Naamsestraat 69
Leuven, B-3000
Belgium
+32 16 32 6912 (Phone)
+32 16 32 6732 (Fax)

Maastricht University - Department of Organization & Strategy ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200 MD
Netherlands

Victor A. Gilsing

Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) - Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies (ECIS) ( email )

P.O. Box 513
NL-5600 MB Eindhoven
Netherlands
+040 247 4435 (Phone)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T08-21
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands
+31 10 4081945, 4081980 (Phone)
+31 10 4089015 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://web.eur.nl/fbk/dep/dep2/Staff/people/vgilsing

Ministerie van Economische Zaken ( email )

Bezuidenhoutseweg 20
Den Haag, 2594 AV
Netherlands
+31 70 354 3771 (Phone)
+31 70 379 7788 (Fax)

Shinya Suzuki

National Institute of Science and Technology Policy of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology ( email )

Japan

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