Title: Exploring and exploiting through external sources: the effect of learning and technological proximity

Authors: Vito Albino, Antonio Messeni Petruzzelli, Daniele Rotolo

Addresses: Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica e Gestionale, Politecnico di Bari, Viale Japigia, 182, Bari 70126, Italy. ' Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica e Gestionale, Politecnico di Bari, Viale Japigia, 182, Bari 70126, Italy. ' Dipartimento di Ingegneria Meccanica e Gestionale, Politecnico di Bari, Viale Japigia, 182, Bari 70126, Italy

Abstract: In this paper, we investigate how the different types of external learning performed by organisations, i.e., interaction and imitation, and their technological proximity with external sources affect exploration and exploitation. Specifically, analysing the last 250 patents registered by Toyota Motor Corp. at the European Patent Office, we find that exploration is favoured by interactive learning mechanisms and technological diversity between knowledge source and recipient. On the contrary, learning by interaction and similarity between technological competencies and capabilities are more suitable for exploitative research activities.

Keywords: exploration; exploitation; external learning; technological proximity; interaction; imitation; patents; Toyota Motor Corporation; EPO; European Patent Office; interactive learning; technological diversity; intellectual property; competencies; capabilities; knowledge sources; knowledge recipients; R&D; research and development; multinational corporations; automotive MNCs; automobile industry.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIL.2010.034011

International Journal of Innovation and Learning, 2010 Vol.8 No.1, pp.11 - 27

Published online: 06 Jul 2010 *

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