K.U.Leuven - Departement toegepaste economische wetenschappen
DTEW Research Report 0447 pages:1-42
Explorative R&D collaboration is an important alternative for the internal development of new technologies. The high failure rate of this type of inter-organizational collaboration, however, indicates that governing explorative R&D collaboration is not a straightforward task. Moreover, we argue that different theoretical perspectives have formulated contradictory advice of how to govern explorative R&D collaboration. Given high risks of opportunistic behavior and high coordination costs within explorative R&D collaboration, Transaction Cost Economics and Organization Theory emphasize the need for formal governance mechanisms. The innovation literature, however, stresses that formal governance mechanisms prohibit the carrying out of explorative activities which are necessary to develop new technologies. We also suggest two alternatives to address these paradoxical requirements. In specific, we argue that effective and efficient governance of explorative R&D collaboration can be achieved by 1) collecting second-hand information about potential partners, allowing for the substitution of formal governance by relational governance, and 2) combining formal and relational governance mechanisms. Based on these theoretical findings, we emphasize the importance of longitudinal, multi-level research to study the characteristics and dynamics of different governance mechanisms within inter-organizational collaboration.