How researchers study collaboration matters: an analysis on the differences of internal and external collaboration
I conducted a meta-analysis of 103 studies published between 1982 and 2005 that examined firm collaboration. The goals of the analysis were (1) to provide a clearer picture of the diverse ways researchers have conceptualized the term collaboration at the level of the firm and (2) to examine how these different conceptualisations of collaboration are linked with firm performance outcomes. I classified the studies according to (1) the location of the collaboration -within a firm and/or between firms and (2) two sets of attributes (a) collaborative processes and (b) the state of collaborative ownership. I further categorized each of these attributes according to its intensity level - exchange (low intensity), integrative (medium intensity), and synergetic (high intensity). I found that researchers, who examined internal collaboration, were less likely to focus on the association between collaboration and performance than those examining external collaboration. Reporting of firm performance was related to the location and intensity levels on both sets of collaborative attributes. External collaboration, although more often described at a lower intensity than internal collaboration, was associated more frequently with positive performance outcomes than internal collaboration. Neither the Transaction Theory, nor the Resource-based Theory alone was able to account for this pattern of results. Dynamic Capability Theory is suggested as a platform for advancing a model of collaboration and firm performance.
The Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings