Skip to main content Accessibility help

A Delicate Balance for Innovation: Competition and Collaboration in R&D Consortia

  • Dong Chen (a1), Li Dai (a1) and Donghong Li (a2)

This study examines how competitive and cooperative relationships within R&D consortia influence member firms’ innovation output. We propose a U-shaped relationship between the presence of market competitors for a member firm and the firm's joint R&D output with other consortium members, and examine how the relationship is mediated by interactions with other members at the firm level and moderated by collaborative efforts at the consortium level. Using a unique sample of 320 firms from 52 R&D consortia in China, we find support for our predictions. This multi-level study extends our understanding of competition and cooperation in multi-party networks and provides insights for creating a balance between the two forces that is conducive to innovation.


В этом исследовании рассматривается вопрос о том, каким образом отношения конкуренции и сотрудничества в консорциумах компаний в сфере НИОКР влияют на результаты компаний в области инноваций. Мы предлагаем U-образную зависимость между присутствием рыночных конкурентов для отдельной компании и результатами компании в области НИОКР в сотрудничестве с другими членами объединения, а также исследуем, каким образом эти отношения зависят от взаимодействия с другими членами на уровне компаний и от совместных усилий на уровне консорциума. На основании уникальной выборки из 320 компаний в 52 консорциумах по исследованиям и разработкам в Китае, мы находим подтверждение нашим предположениям. Это многоуровневое исследование расширяет наше понимание механизмов конкуренции и сотрудничества в многосторонних объединениях, а также дает представление о создании баланса между двумя формами взаимодействия, чтобы способствовать инновациям.

Este estudio examina cómo las relaciones competitivas y colaborativas en los consorcios de I+D influyen en la producción de innovación empresarial de los miembros. Proponemos una relación en forma de U entre la presencia de competidores de mercado para una empresa miembro y la producción conjunta de I+D de la empresa con otros miembros del consorcio y examinamos cómo la relación es mediada por las interacciones con los otros miembros a nivel empresa y moderada por los esfuerzos colaborativos al nivel del consorcio. Usando una muestra única de 320 empresas de 52 consorcios de I+D en China encontramos apoyo para nuestras predicciones. Este estudio multinivel extiende nuestro entendimiento de la competencia y la cooperación en redes multipartidistas y da una comprensión para crear un equilibrio entre las dos fuerzas propicias para la innovación.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      A Delicate Balance for Innovation: Competition and Collaboration in R&D Consortia
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      A Delicate Balance for Innovation: Competition and Collaboration in R&D Consortia
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      A Delicate Balance for Innovation: Competition and Collaboration in R&D Consortia
      Available formats
Corresponding author
Corresponding author: Dong Chen (
Hide All

Accepted by: Guest Editor Jay Barney

Hide All
Afuah, A. 2000. How much do your ‘co-opetitors’ capabilities matter in the face of technological change? Strategic Management Journal, 21(3): 387404.
Aghion, P., Bloom, N., Blundell, R., Griffith, R., & Howitt, P. 2005. Competition and innovation: An inverted-U relationship. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 120(2): 701728.
Aghion, P., Harris, C., & Vickers, J. 1997. Competition and growth with step-by-step innovation: An example. European Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings, XLI: 771782.
Agrawal, A. K. 2001. University-to-industry knowledge transfer: Literature review and unanswered questions. International Journal of Management Reviews, 3(4): 285302.
Ahuja, G. 2000a. Collaboration networks, structural holes, and innovation: A longitudinal study. Administrative Science Quarterly, 45(3): 425455.
Ahuja, G. 2000b. The duality of collaboration: Inducements and opportunities in the formation of interfirm linkages. Strategic Management Journal, 21(3): 317343.
Ahuja, G., Polidoro, F., & Mitchell, W. 2009. Structural homophily or social asymmetry? The formation of alliances by poorly embedded firms. Strategic Management Journal, 30(9): 941958.
Aldrich, H. E., & Sasaki, T. 1995. R&D consortia in the U.S. and Japan. Research Policy, 24(2): 301316.
Aldrich, H. E., Bolton, M. K., Baker, T., & Sasaki, T. 1998. Information exchange and governance structures in U.S. and Japanese R&D consortia: Institutional and organizational influences. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 45(3): 263275.
Ang, S. H. 2008. Competitive intensity and collaboration: Impact on firm growth across technological environments. Strategic Management Journal, 29(10): 10571075.
Ariño, A., & Reuer, J. J. 2004. Designing and renegotiating strategic alliance contracts. Academy Management Executive, 18(3): 3748.
Axelrod, R. 1984. The evolution of cooperation. New York: Basic Books.
Beamish, P. W., & Kachra, A. 2004. Number of partners and JV performance. Journal of World Business, 39(2): 107120.
Bengtsson, M., & Kock, S. 2000. ‘Coopetition’ in business networks – To cooperate and compete simultaneously. Industrial Marketing Management, 29(5): 411426.
Bengtsson, M., & Kock, S. 2014. Coopetition – Quo vadis? Past accomplishments and future challenges. Industrial Marketing Management, 43(2): 180188.
Bengtsson, M., Kock, S., Lundgren-Henriksson, E. L., & Näsholm, M. H. 2016. Coopetition research in theory and practice: Growing new theoretical, empirical, and methodological domains. Industrial Marketing Management, 57: 411.
Bengtsson, M., & Raza-Ullah, T. 2016. A systematic review of research on coopetition: Toward a multilevel understanding. Industrial Marketing Management, 57: 2339.
Benjamin, D. J., Berger, J. O., Johannesson, M., Nosek, B. A., Wagenmakers, E. J., Berk, R., Bollen, K. A., Brembs, B., Brown, L., Camerer, C., & Cesarini, D. 2018. Redefine statistical significance. Nature Human Behaviour, 2(1): 610.
Boone, J. 2001. Intensity of competition and the incentive to innovate. International Journal of Industrial Organization, 19(5): 705726.
Boone, J. 2008. A new way to measure competition. Economic Journal, 118(531): 12451261.
Boschma, R. 2005. Proximity and innovation: A critical assessment. Regional Studies, 39(1): 6174.
Bouncken, R. B., Clauß, T., & Fredrich, V. 2016. Product innovation through coopetition in alliances: Singular or plural governance? Industrial Marketing Management, 53: 7790.
Bouncken, R. B., Gast, J., Kraus, S., & Bogers, M. 2015. Coopetition: A systematic review, synthesis, and future research directions. Review of Managerial Science, 9(3): 125.
Brandenburger, A. M., & Nalebuff, B. J. 1996. Coopetition: A revolutionary mindset that combines competition and cooperation in the marketplace. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Branstetter, L., & Sakakibara, M. 1998. Japanese research consortia: A microeconometric analysis of industrial policy. Journal of Industrial Economics, 46(2): 207233.
Brockhoff, K., Gupta, A. K., & Rotering, C. 1991. Interfirm R&D co-operations in Germany. Technovation, 11(4): 219229.
Camisón-Zornoza, C., Lapiedra-Alcamí, R., Segarra-Ciprés, M., & Boronat-Navarro, M. 2004. A meta-analysis of innovation and organizational size. Organization studies, 25(3): 331361.
Chen, K., & Kenney, M. 2007. Universities/research institutes and regional innovation systems: The cases of Beijing and Shenzhen. World Development, 35(6): 10561074.
Chen, M.-J. 1996. Competitor analysis and interfirm rivalry: Toward a theoretical integration. Academy of Management Review, 21(1): 100134.
Cohen, J. 1988. Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Cohen, W., & Levinthal, D. 1990. Absorptive capacity: A new perspective on learning and innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(1): 128152.
Czakon, W., Mucha-Kus, K., & Rogalski, M. 2014. Coopetition research landscape–A systematic literature review 1997–2010. Journal of Economics & Management, 17: 121150.
Doz, Y. L., Olk, P. M., & Ring, P. S. 2000. Formation processes of R&D consortia: Which path to take? Where does it lead? Strategic Management Journal, 21(3): 239266.
Dyer, J. H., Kale, P., & Singh, H. 2001. Strategic alliances work. Sloan Management Review, 42(4): 3743.
Emden, Z., Calantone, R. J., & Droge, C. 2006. Collaborating for new product development: Selecting the partner with maximum potential to create value. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 23(4): 330341.
Evan, W. M., & Olk, P. 1990. R&D consortia: A new U.S. organizational form. Sloan Management Review, 31(3): 3746.
Fisher, R. J., & Katz, J. E. 2008. Social desirability bias and the validity of self-reported values. Psychology & Marketing, 17(February): 105120.
Gilbert, R. 2006. Looking for Mr. Schumpeter: Where are we in the competition–innovation debate? Innovation Policy and the Economy, 6: 159215.
Gnyawali, D. R., He, J., & Madhavan, R. R. 2006. Impact of co-opetition on firm competitive behavior: An empirical examination. Journal of Management, 32(4): 507530.
Gnyawali, D. R., & Madhavan, R. 2001. Cooperative networks and competitive dynamics: A structural embeddedness perspective. Academy Management Review, 26(3): 431445.
Gnyawali, D. R., & Song, Y. 2016. Pursuit of rigor in research: Illustration from coopetition literature. Industrial Marketing Management, 57: 1222.
Gulati, R., & Gargiulo, M. 1999. Where do interorganizational networks come from? American Journal of Sociology, 104(5): 14391493.
Hagedoorn, J. 1993. Understanding the rationale of strategic technology partnering: Interorganizational modes of cooperation and sectoral differences. Strategic Management Journal, 14(5): 371386.
Hagedoorn, J., & Cloodt, M. 2003. Measuring innovative performance: Is there an advantage in using multiple indicators? Research Policy, 32(8): 13651379.
Hagedoorn, J., & Hesen, G. 2007. Contract law and the governance of inter-firm technology partnerships–An analysis of different modes of partnering and their contractual implications. Journal of Management Studies, 44(3): 342366.
Hagedoorn, J., & Narula, R. 1996. Choosing organizational modes of strategic technology partnering: International and sectoral differences. Journal of International Business Studies, 27(2): 265284.
Hagedoorn, J., & Schakenraad, J. 1994. The effect of strategic technology alliances on company performance. Strategic Management Journal, 15(4): 291309.
Hamel, G. 1991. Competition for competence and inter-partner learning within international strategic alliances. Strategic Management Journal, 12(S1): 83103.
Hayes, A. F. 2013. Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: Guilford Publications.
Hitt, M. A., Beamish, P. W., Jackson, S. E., & Mathieu, J. E. 2007. Building theoretical and empirical bridges across levels: Multilevel research in management. Academy Management Journal, 50(6): 13851399.
Hottenrott, H., & Lopes-Bento, C. 2014. (International) R&D collaboration and SMEs: The effectiveness of targeted public R&D support schemes. Research Policy, 43(6): 10551066.
Hox, J. J. 2010. Multilevel analysis: Techniques and applications (2nd edition). New York: Routledge.
Huang, K. F., & Yu, C. M. J. 2011. The effect of competitive and non-competitive R&D collaboration on firm innovation. Journal of Technology Transfer, 36(4): 383403.
Kale, P., Singh, H., & Perlmutter, H. 2000. Learning and protection of proprietary assets in strategic alliances: Building relational capital. Strategic Management Journal, 21(3): 217237.
Katz, M. L. 1986. An analysis of cooperative research and development. RAND Journal of Economics, 17(4): 527543.
Khanna, T., Gulati, R., & Nohria, N. 1998. The dynamics of learning alliances: Competition, cooperation, and relative scope. Strategic Management Journal, 19(3): 193210.
Kim, C. S., & Inkpen, A. C. 2005. Cross-border R&D alliances, absorptive capacity and technology learning. Journal of International Management, 11(3): 313329.
Kim, J., & Parkhe, A. 2009. Competing and cooperating similarity in global strategic alliances: An exploratory examination. British Journal of Management, 20(3): 363376.
Klein, K. J., & Kozlowski, S. W. 2000. Multilevel theory, research, and methods in organizations: Foundations, extensions, and new directions. New York: Jossey-Bass.
Knudsen, M. P. 2007. The relative importance of interfirm relationships and knowledge transfer for new product development success. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 24(2): 117138.
Kreft, I. G., De Leeuw, J., & Aiken, L. S. 1995. The effect of different forms of centering in hierarchical linear models. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 30(1): 121.
Kwoka, J. E. Jr. 1985. Herfindahl index in theory and practice. The Antitrust Bulletin, 30: 915949.
Lado, A. A., Boyd, N. G., & Hanlon, S. C. 1997. Competition, cooperation, and the search for economic rents: A syncretic model. Academy Management Review, 22(1): 110141.
Lampe, R., & Moser, P. 2016. Patent pools, competition, and innovation–Evidence from 20 US industries under the New Deal. The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 32(1): 136.
Lavie, D. 2006. The competitive advantage of interconnected firms: An extension of the resource-based view. Academy Management Review, 31(3): 638658.
Lavie, D. 2007. Alliance portfolios and firm performance: A study of value creation and appropriation in the U.S. software industry. Strategic Management Journal, 28(12): 11871212.
Lee, J. S., Park, J. H., & Bae, Z. T. 2017. The effects of licensing-in on innovative performance in different technological regimes. Research Policy, 46(2): 485496.
Levin, R. C., Cohen, W. M., & Mowery, D. C. 1985. R&D appropriability, opportunity, and market structure: New evidence on some schumpeterian hypotheses. American Economic Review, 75(2): 2024.
Lewin, A. Y., Massini, S., & Peeters, C. 2011. Microfoundations of internal and external absorptive capacity routines. Organization Science, 22(1): 8198.
Li, Y., Liu, Y., & Liu, H. 2011. Coopetition, distributor's entrepreneurial orientation and manufacturer's knowledge acquisition: Evidence from China. Journal of Operational Management, 29(1): 128142.
Lin, B. W. 2003. Technology transfer as technological learning: a source of competitive advantage for firms with limited R&D resources. R&D Management, 33(3): 327341.
Liu, Y., Luo, Y., Yang, P., & Maksimov, V. 2014. Typology and effects of co-opetition in buyer–supplier relationships: Evidence from the Chinese home appliance industry. Management and Organization Review, 10(3): 439465.
Lomi, A., & Larsen, E. R. 1996. Interacting locally and evolving globally: A computational approach to the dynamics of organizational populations. Academy of Management Journal, 39(5): 12871321.
Luo, Y. 2007. A coopetition perspective of global competition. Journal of World Business, 42(2): 129144.
Maas, C. J., & Hox, J. J. 2005. Sufficient sample sizes for multilevel modeling. Methodology, 1(3): 8692.
MacKinnon, D. P., Lockwood, C. M., Hoffman, J. M., West, S. G., & Sheets, V. 2002. A comparison of methods to test mediation and other intervening variable effects. Psychological Methods, 7(1): 83104.
MacKinnon, D. P., Lockwood, C. M., & Williams, J. 2004. Confidence limits for the indirect effect: Distribution of the product and resampling methods. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 39(1): 99128.
Mathews, J. A. 2002. Competitive advantages of the latecomer firm: A resource-based account of industrial catch-up strategies. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 19(4): 467488.
McAdam, R., & McClelland, J. 2002. Individual and team-based idea generation within innovation management: Organizational and research agendas. European Journal of Innovation Management, 5(2): 8697.
Ministry of Science and Technology of China, 2009. The implementation policies of promoting industrial technology and innovation consortia. (Policy number 648).
Mowery, D. C., Oxley, J. E., & Silverman, B. S. 1996. Strategic alliances and interfirm knowledge transfer. Strategic Management Journal, 17(S2): 7791.
Narin, F., Noma, E., & Perry, R. 1987. Patents as indicators of corporate technological strength. Research Policy, 16(2–4): 143155.
Nieto, M. J., & Santamaría, L. 2007. The importance of diverse collaborative networks for the novelty of product innovation. Technovation, 27(6): 367377.
Okamuro, H. 2007. Determinants of successful R&D cooperation in Japanese small businesses: The impact of organizational and contractual characteristics. Research Policy, 36(10): 15291544.
Oliver, A. L. 2004. Biotechnology entrepreneurial scientists and their collaborations. Research Policy, 33(4): 583597.
Olk, P., & Young, C. 1997. Why members stay in or leave an R&D consortium: Performance and conditions of membership as determinants of continuity. Strategic Management Journal, 18(11): 855877.
Ouchi, W. G., & Bolton, M. K. 1988. The logic of joint research and development. California Management Review, 30(3): 933.
Park, S. H., & Ungson, G. R. 2001. Interfirm rivalry and managerial complexity: A conceptual framework of alliance failure. Organization Science, 12(1): 3753.
Park, B. J., Srivastava, M. K., & Gnyawali, D. R. 2014. Impact of coopetition in the alliance portfolio and coopetition experience on firm innovation. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 26(8): 893907.
Pathak, S. D., Wu, Z., & Johnston, D. 2014. Toward a structural view of co-opetition in supply networks. Journal of Operations Management, 32(5): 254267.
Peugh, J. L. 2010. A practical guide to multilevel modeling. Journal of School Psychology, 48(1): 85112.
Pike, G. R., & Rocconi, L. M. 2012. Multilevel modeling: Presenting and publishing the results for internal and external constituents. New Directions for Institutional Research, 2012(154): 111124.
Polidoro, F., Ahuja, G., & Mitchell, W. 2011. When the social structure overshadows competitive incentives: The effects of network embeddedness on joint venture dissolution. Academy Management Journal, 54(1): 203223.
Porter, M. 1998. Clusters and the new economics of competition. Harvard Business Review, 76(6): 77.
Pouder, R., & St. John, C. H. 1996. Hot spots and blind spots: Geographical clusters of firms and innovation. Academy of Management Review, 21(4): 11921225.
Quintana-Garcia, C., & Benavides-Velasco, C. A. 2004. Cooperation, competition, and innovative capability: A panel data of European dedicated biotechnology firms. Technovation, 24(12): 927938.
Rai, R. K. 2013. A coopetition-based approach to value creation in interfirm alliances construction of a measure and examination of its psychometric properties. Journal of Management, 30(1): 120.
Ring, P. S., & Van de Ven, A. H. 1992. Structuring cooperative relationships between organizations. Strategic Management Journal, 13(7): 483498.
Ritala, P. 2012. Coopetition strategy–when is it successful? Empirical evidence on innovation and market performance. British Journal of Management, 23(3): 307324.
Sakakibara, M. 2002. Formation of R&D consortia: Industry and company effects. Strategic Management Journal, 23(11): 10331050.
Sakakibara, M., & Cho, D. S. 2002. Cooperative R&D in Japan and Korea: A comparison of industrial policy. Research Policy, 31(5): 673692.
Sanchez, R. 2008. Modularity in the mediation of market and technology change. International Journal of Technology Management, 42(4): 331364.
Shan, W., Walker, G., & Kogut, B. 1994. Interfirm cooperation and startup innovation in the biotechnology industry. Strategic Management Journal, 15(5): 387394.
Simonsohn, U. 2018. Two-lines: A valid alternative to the invalid testing of U-shaped relationships with quadratic regressions (July 11, 2018). Available at SSRN:
Snijders, T. A. 2005. Power and sample size in multilevel linear models. In Everitt, B. & Howell, D. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of statistics in behavioral science: 15701573. Chicester, UK: Wiley.
Suarez, F. F. 2005. Network effects revisited: The role of strong ties in technology selection. Academy of Management Journal, 48(4): 710720.
Tushman, M. L., & Katz, R. 1980. External communication and project performance: An investigation into the role of gatekeepers. Management Science, 26(11): 10711085.
Uzzi, B. 1997. Social structure and competition in interfirm networks: The paradox of embeddedness. Administrative Science Quarterly, 42(1): 3567.
Vakili, K. 2016. Collaborative promotion of technology standards and the impact on innovation, industry structure, and organizational capabilities: Evidence from modern patent pools. Organization Science, 27(6): 15041524.
Venkatraman, N., & Ramanujam, R. 1986. Measurement of business performance in strategy research: A comparison of approaches. Academy Management Review, 11(4): 801814.
Volberda, H. W., Foss, N. J., & Lyles, M. A. 2010. Perspective–Absorbing the concept of absorptive capacity: How to realize its potential in the organization field. Organization Science, 21(4): 931951.
Walley, K. 2007. Coopetition: An introduction to the subject and an agenda for research. International Studies of Management & Organization, 37(2): 1131.
Wasserman, S., & Faust, K. 1994. Social network analysis: Methods and applications (Vol. 8). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wu, J. 2014. Cooperation with competitors and product innovation: Moderating effects of technological capability and alliances with universities. Industrial Marketing Management, 43(2): 199209.
Zander, U., & Kogut, B. 1995. Knowledge and the speed of the transfer and imitation of organizational capabilities: An empirical test. Organization Science, 6(1): 7692.
Zhang, H., Shu, C., Jiang, X., & Malter, A. J. 2010. Managing knowledge for innovation: The role of cooperation, competition, and alliance nationality. Journal of International Marketing, 18(4): 7494.
Zollo, M., Reuer, J. J., & Singh, H. 2002. Interorganizational routines and performance in strategic alliances. Organization Science, 13(6): 701713.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Management and Organization Review
  • ISSN: 1740-8776
  • EISSN: 1740-8784
  • URL: /core/journals/management-and-organization-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed