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Appropriability mechanisms for manufacturing and service firms: the contingencies of openness and knowledge intensity

Yacoub, G., Storey, C. & Haefliger, S. ORCID: 0000-0003-4207-9207 (2020). Appropriability mechanisms for manufacturing and service firms: the contingencies of openness and knowledge intensity. R & D Management, doi: 10.1111/radm.12411


Conventional wisdom argues that appropriating returns from innovation requires protection mechanisms. However, there will be limits to the effectiveness of formal and informal appropriability mechanisms for innovation performance. Their effectiveness will be contingent on the nature of the knowledge that firms are trying to protect and the openness of their innovation strategy (sharing knowledge while attempting to protect knowledge is known as the “paradox of openness”). Do these boundary conditions apply to both manufacturing and service firms equally though? Analysing data from the U.K. Community Innovation Survey, this study provides evidence for a continuum—from discrete product manufacturing firms, whose products rely heavily on codified, explicit knowledge and for which formal methods are strongly associated with innovation performance, to knowledge-intensive service firms, which tend to rely more on complex tacit knowledge and for which innovation is linked to informal, not formal, appropriability. The findings show that the paradox of openness is a limited problem for service firms. The benefits of collaboration for innovation performance outweigh any reduction in the effectiveness of appropriability. For manufacturers, the benefits of collaboration disappear with high formal appropriability, and thus discrete product manufacturers, contrary to conventional wisdom, may find it beneficial to reduce collaboration breadth and invest in informal appropriability mechanisms. Knowledge-intensive servitised manufacturers find formal methods effective but only with no or minimal collaboration.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Appropriability; open innovation; innovation performance; service; manufacturing; knowledge-intensive firms
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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