Enabling innovation at the level of firms, alliances and clustersa study of Spanish biotech industry

  1. Vesna Vlaisavljevic
Supervised by:
  1. Niek F. Van Hulst Director
  2. Carmen Cabello-Medina Director

Defence university: Universidad Pablo de Olavide

Year of defence: 2015

  1. Jaume Valls Passola Chair
  2. Andrea Piccaluga Secretary
  3. Petra de Weerd-Nederhof Committee member
  1. Management and Marketing

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 395778 DIALNET lock_openRIO editor


Firms in knowledge-intensive industries are rarely able to develop internally all activities needed to foster the innovation. Innovation is increasingly becoming an interactive process that involves formal and informal relationships between different agents in order to exchange valuable knowledge and resources for the development of new technological advances. Therefore firms establish alliances which allow them to access necessary competencies to gain competitive advantage. Spatial proximity offered by cluster is often considered as a context which facilitates both, knowledge exchanges and creation of new knowledge for innovation. According to knowledge management approach, we consider that firms, alliances and clusters represent different levels in each of which a great amount of knowledge is generated and exchanged. We propose that certain factors in each of these levels may improve the effectiveness of such knowledge exchanges, which in turn, will improve the innovation performance of firms. Our research raises the question which enablers should be present at the level of firm, alliances and cluster in order to improve the innovation performance of companies. Four studies were carried out to find answer to this question. The first study suggests that curvilinear relationship between alliance partner diversity on innovation performance will be positively moderate by two alliance attributes relational social capital and knowledge codifiability. The second study provides a comprehensive understanding of how alliance portfolio configuration can influence innovation performance suggesting that rather than mere size of alliance portfolio its organizational and geographic features have impact on technological performance which in turn affects the growth of the firm. In the third study we examined science/industry interactions and we have found that combining firm¿s internal scientific capabilities with the exchange of knowledge with local scientific partners seems to be a favourable strategy for innovative firms. In the fourth study we analysed how industrial, scientific and supporting driving forces at cluster level may enable technological development of the firms located in the cluster. We focused our research on the biotech industry. The nature of biotechnology activity, result of cross-industrial and cross- disciplinary scientific synergies, has lead biotechnology companies to an extensive reliance on external collaborations which tend to take place in regional clusters. This is an emerging sector with a large multiplier effect, where management study is interested to determine different elements that contribute to the success of biotech companies. This dissertation contributes to various stream of literature, mainly to the research on innovation management. Also interesting implications are derived for managers, policymakers as well as regional government policies addressed to foster knowledge exchange and innovation in knowledge-intensive industries.