Identifying start-up partners: Which search practices and combination strategies are effective?
Start-ups are an important source of novel knowledge and product ideas for incumbents. We investigate which search strategies are positively related to the successful search for start-ups. We identify search instruments and their various uses: intensive or broad; stand-alone or combinatory. Finding 11 search practices in the literature, we evaluate how these practices were used by 97 respondents from a cross-industry and cross-national sample. Our results show that searching broadly and intensively is positively related to a successful search for start-ups and to firms’ radical innovation capability. Specific tools that are positively related to search success are online contacts, desk research, external scouting partners, and start-up pitch events. Decision tree analysis provides effective combinations of search practices that innovation managers and purchasing managers can use. Employing these search practice combinations, we make incumbents aware of the routines used in distant knowledge search. These practices are dynamic capabilities that help them to remain successful in high-velocity markets. In identifying these search practices, we contribute to the literature on innovation routines and dynamic capability research.