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Thomas Keil, Shaker A. Zahra and Markku Maula

Keil, Zahra and Maula discuss the importance of corporate venture capital (CVC) as a learning mechanism, a theme that is consistent with some of the arguments presented by Basu et al. and Jelinek and Day. Specifically, they note that while there is consensus on the importance of learning as a strategic benefit of CVC, evidence is mixed. Existing studies highlight the contingent learning benefits of CVC, whereas others highlight barriers to such learning. Keil et al. use the organizational learning perspective to develop their arguments, adopting a “portfolio” perspective on CVC investment where the firm has a combination of different investments with different motives, goals and time horizons. Keil and colleagues propose that the characteristics of such a portfolio could influence the potential explorative and exploitative learning of incumbents who need to be adept at managing and balancing exploration and exploitation. A key point that the authors propose is that learning through CVC investments differs from other inter-organizational relationships. In managing this portfolio, there is a great need for knowledge integration as a means of making sense of what the firm learns through CVC. Their analysis and model indicate that the volume of CVC investments can significantly influence the explorative and exploitative learning an organization may experience. The extent of this learning depends greatly on the degree of core business relatedness, venture relatedness, dispersion and autonomy and the existence of knowledge transfer and integration mechanisms.