Technology Exploitation Paths: Combining Technological and Complementary Resources in New Product Development and Licensing

Mattia Bianchi, Frederico Frattini, Jose Lejarraga, Alberto Di Minin

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    40 Citations (Scopus)
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    Technological resources in the form of patents, trade secrets, and know-how have become key assets for modern enterprises. This paper addresses a critical issue in technology and innovation management, namely, the commercial exploitation of technological resources resulting from research and development (R&D) investments. Extracting economic value from these resources by maximizing the benefits for shareholders is an extremely challenging task because technological resources are intangible, idiosyncratic, uncertain, predominantly tacit, and with poorly defined property rights. In their attempt to extract the maximum value from their technological resources, firms increasingly combine their internal exploitation through new product development (NPD) with external exploitation through licensing. However, most existing studies on NPD and technology licensing have treated the two exploitation paths independently and in isolation, which has resulted in two separate research streams using different theories and addressing different managerial challenges. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to filling this gap by developing and testing a comprehensive conceptual framework that simultaneously considers the antecedents affecting the successful implementation of NPD and licensing strategies as well as their consequences on firm profitability. The paper in particular investigates the effects of the interplay between technological resources and three types of complementary resources, marketing, manufacturing, and relational. We test the model using structural equation modeling on a sample of 733 Spanish manufacturing firms observed from 2003 to 2007. The data provide support for the existence of different paths to market firm technologies: an internal path, whereby the ownership of technological resources fully explains NPD performance, and an external path, whereby high intensity of marketing and relational resources reinforces the positive effect of technological resources on licensing performance. This sustains the relevance of the resource-based value-enhancing effects of complementary resources in licensing, as opposed to the motivation-reducing effects advanced by transaction cost-based literature. Moreover, the empirical analysis shows a substitution effect between NPD and licensing, whereby their simultaneous pursuit at intense levels is associated with lower profit margins. This provides evidence of the much theorized, but seldom tested, rent dissipation effect. These findings offer several contributions to research on licensing, NPD, open innovation, and the resource-based view of the firm. On a managerial level, they suggest that achieving maximum value from proprietary technologies may not entail exploiting them both through external and internal paths. Managers are also informed that the resource combinations that enhance licensing performance include marketing and relational resources
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)146-169
    JournalJournal of product innovation management
    Issue numberSuppl. S1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • IR-92996
    • METIS-306918


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