Controversy in Innovation Outsourcing Research: Review, Synthesis and Future Directions

13 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2010

See all articles by Michael Stanko

Michael Stanko

Michigan State University - College of Law

Roger J. Calantone


Date Written: December 22, 2010


There is a growing stream of research into the outsourcing of innovation activities within the innovation, management, marketing and economics disciplines. Understandably, this coincides with the practice becoming more commonplace in industry. Here, we attempt to synthesize research surrounding the question of whether to outsource or internalize innovation activities and the performance implications of this decision. Support for both transaction cost and resource-based arguments is examined, with both theory bases showing substantial attention from both case-based and empirical research. As innovation outsourcing research has progressed, several controversies have emerged in the literature and remain unresolved. For instance, case-based research provides evidence that outsourcing innovation activities can lead to faster product development and cost savings; yet, empirical research shows that outsourcing may lead to higher costs and slower new product development. Further, the role of technological uncertainty may have two distinct and conflicting impacts on the outsourcing decision that are not yet well understood. Thus, we present an integrated, timely review of innovation outsourcing research and identify several areas that necessitate future research projects.

Suggested Citation

Stanko, Michael and Calantone, Roger J., Controversy in Innovation Outsourcing Research: Review, Synthesis and Future Directions (December 22, 2010). R&D Management, Vol. 41, Issue 1, pp. 8-20, 2010, Available at SSRN: or

Michael Stanko (Contact Author)

Michigan State University - College of Law ( email )

318 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States

Roger J. Calantone


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