Searching for external knowledge has frequently been characterized as crucial for firm success. However, little is known about how the direction of search strategies influences innovation performance. In this paper, we argue that firms need to specialize their search strategy and that its effectiveness is moderated by R&D investments and potential knowledge spillovers from a firm's environment. Based on a sample of more than 5,000 firms from five European countries, our results show that being open for innovation generally pays off. However, both moderating factors have a crucial role to play: On the one hand, in-house R&D investments are most effective when combined with a market-oriented search strategy. On the other hand, a technologically advanced environment requires firms to reach out to scientific knowledge sources in order to access novel knowledge and to enhance innovation performance. We develop targeted management recommendations based on these results.

Sofka, Wolfgang and Christoph Grimpe (2009), Specialized Search and Innovation Performance – Evidence Across Europe, ZEW Discussion Paper No. 09-016, Mannheim, published in: R&D Management. Download


Sofka, Wolfgang
Grimpe, Christoph


Open innovation, search strategies, innovation management