Essays on cooperation and/or competition within R&D communities

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Jiang, Lin
Thursby, Marie C.
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This dissertation attempts to contribute to our understanding of how firms can manage and benefit from its research and development (R&D) communities. In the first essay, we examine how established firms can leverage a broad R&D community to invent successfully during the early stage of a technological change. We find significant inventions by incumbents outside the existing dominant designs and relate their success to their willingness to search novel areas, explore scientific knowledge in the public domain, and form alliances with a balanced portfolio of partners. We find support for the hypotheses using data from the global semiconductor industry between 1989 and 2002. In the second essay, we examine a classical choice within an R&D community: cooperation or competition with other firms along a technology supply chain. We find that the answer depends not just on the transaction costs, strength of intellectual property protection rights, and asset cospecialization in the buyers' industries, but also the supplier's knowledge transfer capability and a typical buyer's productivity in developing licensed inventions. For instance, the effect of asset cospecialization on licensing is moderated by the factors that affect the buyers' productivity in developing external technology. Additionally, factors that reduce the buyers' development productivity can be mitigated by the supplier's knowledge transfer capability. We find empirical supports for these predictions using a cross-industry panel dataset of a sample of 345 U.S. small technology-based firms for the 1996-2007 period. In the third essay, I develop two game theoretical models to address how research competition from academic researchers affects firms' openness in disclosing intermediate R&D outcomes. Both models predict that such competition increases the firm's incentive to publish research findings, even though the firm would not have had such an incentive without the presence of the competition. The models also suggest several conditions under which the effect takes place. I further discuss the implications of ownership fragmentation for research materials within the scientific community and academic researchers' engagement in entrepreneurial activities. As implied by my models, these phenomena might instigate withholding of research findings by firms.
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