Experience, Learning & Collaborative Returns in R&D Alliances
44 Pages Posted: 14 May 2002
Date Written: April 28, 2002
Focusing on the link between prior alliance experience and firm benefits from R&D collaborations, this paper explores whether firms learn to manage their alliances. While prior experience should increase collaborative benefits from the current alliance, I expect these returns: (1) to be most beneficial when alliance activities are more uncertain; and (2) to diminish at high levels of experience. Results from a sample of 464 R&D alliances in the telecom equipment industry generally match these expectations. The positive benefits of prior experience in complex alliances suggests that a broader set of alliance management processes allows the firm to manage situations of ambiguity more readily. The lack of cumulative benefits from prior experience appears to be partly due to knowledge depreciating over time, since only recent experience has a positive impact on collaborative returns. Overall, these results provide empirical evidence of the effect of prior experience on collaborative benefits, both directly and conditional on alliance characteristics, and have implications for learning to manage organizations more generally.
Keywords: Alliances, Learning, Governance, R&D
JEL Classification: L14, O32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation