Connecting the Firm to External Knowledge
Chapter 10: Research Experts’ Role in Knowledge Development and Exchange in Formal Research Cooperation
10.1 INTRODUCTION In addition to labour and capital, knowledge has become an important production factor. Knowledge can be codified or tacit. If codified, knowledge can be traded on a specialised market, provided that it is standardised and fairly priced. Tacit knowledge remains embodied in the minds of people, and is part and parcel of their skills. These skills are either the result of their formal educational training or have been acquired en route during their job. The literature on ‘distributed’ or ‘open’ innovation (Chesbrough, 2003a; Coombs et al., 2003) emphasises the need for enterprises to co-depend on external knowledge in order to perform research and innovate. One way to do so is by means of research cooperation. Firms are, therefore, engaging in formal research collaboration agreements. Such a research cooperation may improve learning efficiency in absorbing external knowledge, thereby increasing the impact on the innovative performance of incoming spillovers. It may, at the same time, provide a mechanism to reduce outgoing spillovers, by helping to internalise them. In order to allow cooperative agreements, a sufficient degree of knowledge appropriability is required to reduce free-rider behaviour by outsiders. Second, research cooperation may give access to tacit knowledge and know-how, which does not spill over and cannot easily be contracted through market transactions. Third, research partnerships allow exploitation of economies of scale and scope in both research and development, thereby reducing innovation costs and, in the same vein, help share risks. The focus of our research is on knowledge development – in terms...
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