Purpose – This paper explores the factors which determine the degree of knowledge transfer in inter-firm new product development projects. We test a theoretical model exploring how inter-firm knowledge transfer is enabled or hindered by a buyer’s learning intent, the degree of supplier protectiveness, inter-firm knowledge ambiguity, and absorptive capacity. Design/methodology/approach – A sample of 153 R&D intensive manufacturing firms in the UK automotive, aerospace, pharmaceutical, electrical, chemical, and general manufacturing industries were used to test the framework. Two-step structural equation modeling in AMOS 7.0 was used to analyse the data. Findings – Our results indicate that a buyer’s learning intent increases inter-firm knowledge transfer, but also acts as an incentive for suppliers to protect their knowledge. Such defensive measures increase the degree of inter-firm knowledge ambiguity, encouraging buyer firms to invest in absorptive capacity as a means to interpret supplier knowledge, but also increase the degree of knowledge transfer. Practical implications – Our paper illustrates the effects of focusing on acquisition, rather than accessing, supplier technological knowledge. We show that an overt learning strategy can be detrimental to knowledge transfer between buyer-supplier, as supplier’s react by restricting the flow of information. Organisations are encouraged to consider this dynamic when engaging in multi-organisational new product development projects. Originality/value – This paper examines the dynamics of knowledge transfer within inter-firm NPD projects, showing how transfer is influenced by the buyer firm’s learning intention, supplier’s response, characteristics of the relationship and knowledge to be transferred.
|Journal||International Journal of Operations & Production Management|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|