R&D alliances with suppliers or universities are more likely to be fruitful.
“Not invented here” has become an outdated mind-set in the modern corporation, as shrinking product life cycles and rapid technological evolution have opened corporate attitudes toward external research and development partners. Yet three business school professors conclude that companies should be careful when selecting the partners with whom they collaborate.Collaborating with suppliers provides the biggest boost to product innovation, found C. Annique Un and Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra, assistant professors of the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business, and Kazuhiro Asakawa, professor at Keio University’s Graduate School of Business Administration. Surprisingly, collaborating with customers didn’t seem to have an effect on product innovation. What’s more, working with competitors could actually slow innovation processes. The authors’ findings are detailed in “R&D Collaborations and Product Innovation,” a forthcoming paper in the Journal of Product Innovation Management. The paper looks at suppliers, universities, customers and competitors as four different types of potential collaborators. “If you’re [a manager] thinking about doing all these collaborations, given constraints on time, money and resources, which one is better? How do you choose? That was one of the motivations behind the paper,” explains Un.T