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Research on the Relationship among Tacit Knowledge Acquisition, Absorptive Capacity and Innovation Performance of the New Ventures

Author: WangTianLi
Tutor: ZhangXiuE
School: Jilin University
Course: Business management
Keywords: tacit knowledge acquisition absorptive capacity innovation performance newventures
CLC: F273.1
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2013
Downloads: 436
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Abstract


As an important part of Chinese firms, the great number of Chinese newventures, in term of their innovation ability, has a lot to do with the whole nationalinnovation level both presently and in the future. The Theory of Firm’s Capabilityemphasizes that capability takes on a strong “path dependancy”.“Where a firm cango is a function of its current position and the paths ahead.” and “Its current positionis often shaped by the path it has traveled” are all what it mean(sTeece,1997). So thepath where the new ventures can go is decided by their innovation ability today. Theyshould learn to obtain resources for cultivating this ability through all kinds ofchanels, since most of the new ventures have liability of newness, such as lack oflegitimacy and so on, that is, the new venture is limited in its inner resources. Werethey not active in acquiring resources or knowledge from outside, they are likely tobecome rather insufficient in their innovation ability. The overall industry in ourcountry is now in the setting of “hypercompetition” as a result of environmentalturbulence, and so many new ventures are following others’ footsteps. Hence, how toincrease their innovation performance through acquiring outside resources becomes avery important research subject.The Theory of Firm’s Knowledge holds that the ability to create and applyknowledge is important for continually increasing the firm’s competitive advantage.Furthtermore, the valuebleness, scarcity and insubstitutability of the knowledgespecially embody themselves on its tacitness. Tacit knowledge really accounts for the competitiveness of the firm. Those who can quickly create and make use of tacitknowledge can become innnovative quickly, especially for new ventures, restrained ininner resources and conditioned in the intense outer competition, acquiring exteriortacit knowledge surely becomes the main approach. The previous research cares moreabout some factors that influence tacit knowledge,but pays little attention to themechanism for tacit knowledge to be transformed into innovation performance.Studies concerning the absorptive capacity of new ventures as a mediator between thetwo elements, however, are particularly few.Absorptive capacity is defined as a firm’s ability to recognize and value,assimilate and transform, and integrate and apply new external knowledgecommercially. Acquiring the exterior knowledge resources and then absorbing andapplying them is extremely critical for firms to realize fast and sustainable innovationat their early developing stages. Previous researches discussed the absorptive capacityas a moderator in enhancing organizational performance, but only a rare mention ofhow the absorptive capacity has come into being instead. The present research beginsto address the antecedent variables of it, trying to explain the factors and conditionsthat determine the absorptive capacity. Generally, the academia has recognizedabsorptive capacity as having positive impact on innovation performance, but withregard to researches taking new ventures as object, few has any conclusion. Thisthesis, by studying the relationship between tacit knowledge acquisition andinnovation performance, attempts to discover how the whole course is achieved asthat and whether it is realized through the absorptive capacity, with an aim to explorethe mechanism of the course and the conditions facillitating it.This thesis starts from the urgent need for new ventures’ to promote theirinnovation performance, reviews the previous research outcome about tacitknowledge acquisition, absorptive capacity, innovation performance and therelationship among them based on the current literatures next, and followed by it builds the theoretical model for the chief three research variables and proposescorrespondent research hypotheses accordingly. The empirical study is then carriedout through questionnaires from some of the Chinese new ventures on the hypothesisincluded in the model by methodology of Explorative Factor Analysis, ConfirmativeFactor Analysis and Multiple Regression Analysis. The following are conclusionsreached by theoretical analysis and quantitative empirical analysis of the345validsamples in this research.Firstly, tacit knowledge acquisition has significantly positive impact oninnovation performance for new ventures. Skillful or cognitive tacit knowledgeacquired externally can form a “new combination” about the product or technologyand build new thinking pattern, which helps to promote either technological ormanagerial innovation performance for new ventures. However, the effect of theskillful tacit konwledge acuqisition on managerial innovation performance is not verysignificant in the test(the standardized regression weight is-0.028, p=0.536>0.05).Secondly, tacit knowledge acqisition has significantly positive impact on alldimensions of absorptive capacity. With new ventures continuously obtaining skillfuland cognitive tacit knowledge from outside, the process of recognizing and valuing,assimilating and transforming, integrating and applying them tempers the ventures’ability to deal with new knowledge and information. Meanwhile, the “mental mode”of the new ventures is capable of being improved or consolidated, thereby theabsorptive capacity elevates gradually.Thirdly, the dimensions of absorptive capacity have significantly positive impacton one another sequentially. This signifies that recognizing and valuing, assimilatingand transfroming are relatively basic ability, while the integrating and applying ismore advanced ability which requires more time to accumulate. The effect of theability to assimilate and transform on the ability to integrate and apply is greater(thestandardized regression weight is0.805, p<0.01) than that of the ability to recognize and value on the latte(rthe standardized regression weight is0.723, p<0.01), denotingthat absorptive capacity will produce accumulatively more power as it developsupward.Fourthly, absorptive capacity has significantly positive impact on innovationperformance. The stronger the new ventures’ absorptive capacity, the deeperunderstanding on the development of new technology and product and greater insighton the firms’ operating and managing efficiency the new ventures will gain. As thenew ventures actively carry out their technical and managerial innovation, theirinnovation performance improves likewise. However, the effect of the ability tointegrate and apply on managerial innovation performance has not been supported(the standardized regression weight is0.302, p=0.011>0.01).Fifthly, the mediating role of the firm’s absorptive capacity and its influence ontacit knowledge and innovation performance is tested, with its mediating effect beingcomplete(the standardized regression weight is from0.602, p<0.01to0.052, p>0.01).This conclusion confirms the process of “tacit knowledgeacquisition-absorptive-innovation performance” inferred theoretically, indicating thattacit knowledge itself does not create innovation, innovation largely is derived fromthe firm’s strong absorptive capacity. That tacit knowledge acquisition enhancesinnovation performance through absorptive capacity is the inherent mechanismdiscoved in this research.Lastly, the moderating role of environmental turbulence and its influence on therelationship between tacit knowledge acquisition and innovation performance of thenew ventures is tested. Most new ventures are placed in both technological or marketenvironmental turbulence in their industry, and turbulence inevitably increases thecause-effect ambuiguity and decreases the possiblity to immitate from rivals, and theresult is, new ventures depending on acquiring tacit knowledge from outside caneasily engender both technological and managerial innovative decision, therefore promoting their innovation performance consequently.This study also expands and complements the connotation and the dimension ofabsorptive capacity, which, coupled with the research on the absorptive capacity asmediator, enriches the research in the field of absorptive capacity. The samecontribution also goes to the empirical study on the relationship among tacitknowledge acquisition, absorptive capacity and innovation performance and the seriesof questions exploring the path for new ventures to become innovative, which againenriches the firm’s growth theory. From these, new ventures can learn how to bulidthe initiatives and conciousness to acquire tacit knowledge from outside, and get toknow the conditions shaping it, so as to form a positive “lock-out” and “pathdependency” of the absorptive capacity, ending up to realize rapid growth andsustainable development of the firms in the long run.

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CLC: > Economic > Economic planning and management > Enterprise economy > Production management > Enterprise Technology Management
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