Systemic absorptive capacity: creating early-to-market returns through R&D alliances
For most complex emergent technologies, product-market success depends on efficient linkages between changing lead innovators within the R&D process. In this paper, our unit of analysis is a complex high technology product and the system of alliance linkages formed to progress a product through R&D milestones. We present a model and evidence for advancing our understanding of how achieving early-to-market returns depends on systemic absorptive capacity. This systemic absorptive capacity is the cumulative efficiency in the use of absorptive capacity to link changing lead innovators across successive milestones in R&D product development. We advance propositions of how systemic absorptive capacity can explain performance differences between rival product development systems competing for early-to-market returns with similar products through accelerating speed to market, cost and quality advantages. These explanations are contrasted with the conclusions of previous studies that have focused on absorptive capacity of single firms or single alliances in R&D.
Copyright 2004 Blackwell Publishing. The definitive version is available at [www.blackwell-synergy.com.]