When do firms rely on their knowledge spillover recipients for guidance in exploring unfamiliar knowledge?

Hongyan YANG, H. Kevin STEENSMA

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

17 Citations (Scopus)


Knowledge spillover occurs when recipient firms combine the knowledge of an originating firm with other knowledge. When recipient firms combine the originating firm's knowledge with knowledge that is unfamiliar to the originating firm, the recipient firms potentially provide insight to the originating firm on the viability of exploring such knowledge. By mimicking its recipient firms, the originating firm reduces the challenge and uncertainty of exploring unfamiliar knowledge domains. We examine the exploration activities of 87 telecommunications equipment manufacturers over a ten-year time period. We argue that those firms that operate in competitive and dynamic market environments promoting conservative risk-taking behavior will value such uncertainty reduction more highly and thus rely to a greater extent on their recipient firms for guidance on where to explore for new expertise. In contrast, firms in high-growth market environments are more likely to look beyond the activities of recipient firms when exploring new technological domains and rely less on mimicking their recipient firms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1496-1507
Number of pages12
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number9
Early online date3 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • Exploration
  • Knowledge spillover
  • Market dynamism
  • Organizational learning
  • Risk-taking

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