Firms rely increasingly on external knowledge, e.g. from universities, to improve their innovation performance. Existing research models the acquisition of knowledge either as a firm-specific search or a purchase on markets for technology. The former implies that a firm chooses and develops relationships with knowledge sources while the latter suggests a transaction governed by markets. We argue that both mechanisms increase a firm?s innovation performance but that they are interrelated. While on the firm level firm-specific search and acquisitions on markets for technology complement each other, the costs of firm-specific search are only justified in underdeveloped markets. Otherwise, market transactions provide higher efficiency and flexibility. This negative cross-level interaction effect is stronger the more knowledge in an industry is covered by markets for technology. We test and support these hypotheses for a sample of 2131 German firms.
Knowledge search; Markets for technology; Innovation performance