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Regular version of the site

Article

When does innovation collaboration pay off? The role of relational learning and the timing of collaboration

Industrial Marketing Management. 2018. Vol. 74. P. 126-137.
Smirnova M., Rebiazina V. A., Khomich S.

Extant research argues that innovation collaboration (IC) has strong potential to create relational rents, but few scholars have investigated what capabilities can drive and enhance IC. This paper considers relational learning (RL) as a dynamic capability that strengthens IC and its contribution to firm performance through a better understanding of a firm's past collaboration and its future potential. By focusing on the timing of collaboration, the paper explains how IC is embedded in a firm's innovation activities by investigating the extent to which external partners are involved at various stages of the innovation process. The results of the study, which are based on a quantitative survey of 155 Russian firms, confirm the positive role of RL in innovation collaboration. They also highlight that the extent of the collaboration payoff varies according to its timing. The inclusion of the IC timing perspective indicates that firms should account for both the direct and indirect effects of RL on IC, and IC on firm performance when preparing for and managing their IC efforts with external partners.