What Drives Exploration? Convergence and Divergence of Exploration Tendencies Among Alliance Partners and Competitors

Academy of Management Journal, Forthcoming

Bocconi University Management Research Paper

51 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2019

See all articles by Geert Duysters

Geert Duysters

Tilburg University

Dovev Lavie

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology

Anna Sabidussi

Tilburg University - TIAS School for Business and Society

Uriel Stettner

Tel Aviv University - Coller School of Management

Date Written: October 1, 2019

Abstract

Management research has alluded to organizational and environmental conditions that drive firms’ tendencies to explore versus exploit. We complement this research by developing theory on vicarious learning to explain how a firm adjusts its own exploration level based on the exploration levels of its alliance partners and competitors. Using panel data on 180 electronics firms publicly traded in the U.S., we reveal an inverted U-shaped association between the firm’s exploration tendency and the exploration levels of its partners and competitors. Convergence is explained by imitation and legitimation, while divergence is associated with risk perception and specialization in the knowledge domain. We further show how the convergence of the exploration tendency becomes stronger under firm-specific uncertainty but weaker when the exploration patterns exhibited by the firm’s partners and competitors are incoherent. Finally, counter to expectations, we show that this convergence is weakened by the technological proximity of the firm’s competitors. Our findings inform research on vicarious learning and the antecedents of exploration by underscoring the role of interdependence in firms’ exploration tendencies.

Keywords: Technology and innovation management, Organizational learning, Organization and Management Theory, Interorganizational linkages, Cooperative strategy

JEL Classification: M1, M10, M19

Suggested Citation

Duysters, Geert and Lavie, Dovev and Sabidussi, Anna and Stettner, Uriel, What Drives Exploration? Convergence and Divergence of Exploration Tendencies Among Alliance Partners and Competitors (October 1, 2019). Academy of Management Journal, Forthcoming, Bocconi University Management Research Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3462570

Geert Duysters

Tilburg University ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC Noord-Brabant 5000 LE
Netherlands

Dovev Lavie

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

Anna Sabidussi

Tilburg University - TIAS School for Business and Society ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC 5000 LE
Netherlands

Uriel Stettner (Contact Author)

Tel Aviv University - Coller School of Management ( email )

Ramat Aviv
Tel Aviv, 6997801
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://il.linkedin.com/in/urielstettner/

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