High technology new firms have extensively used strategic alliances to gain access to knowledge, resources and capabilities. However, given their inexperience and limited resources, these firms are vulnerable to their more established partners' potential opportunism. This raises the question: How can new firms maximize the benefits of these alliances while reducing their risks? In this study, we address this question by drawing upon the capabilities perspective to propose that the impact of upstream, horizontal, and downstream alliances on product development depends on the degree of specialization of new firms' technological capabilities. Using a database of biotechnology firms, the results support this argument even when different types of strategic alliances are considered.
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We thank the editor and two anonymous referees for their useful comments, as well as seminar participants at the 2008 Academy of Management Meeting in Anaheim, USA, the 2008 Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference at the University of North-Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA, and seminar participants at INNO-tec, Munich, Germany. Haeussler acknowledges financial support from the German Research Foundation (DFG) through SFB/TR15 “Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems” and the Munich Center for Health Sciences.
- Biotechnology industry
- Capabilities perspective
- High technology new firms
- New product development
- Strategic alliances