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The impact of technology complexity on the financial performance of R&D projects: evidence from Singapore

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Prior empirical research is inconclusive in determining whether technology complexity influences the financial performance of research commercialization projects and how various types of organizational resources contribute to performance. We analyse research commercialization projects involving the collaboration between public research institutes and private firms in Singapore. We examine how the technology complexity of these collaborative projects impacts their financial performance, measured by the licensing fees generated. In addition, we determine how human, financial, network and senior management resources moderate the relationship between technology complexity and financial performance of the projects. Our results indicate that the relationship is inverted U-shaped and moderated by project resources. We find that PRI-firm projects with higher human, network and senior management resources are better positioned to cope with complex technologies. However, investing abundant resources in low complexity technologies reduces the financial performance of projects. Surprisingly, financial resources do not have any significant moderating effect. Our findings are relevant to scholars investigating research commercialization and academic entrepreneurship.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Data retrieved from https://data.gov.sg/dataset/public-sector-research-and-development-expenditure.

  2. 2.

    Data retrieved on the 26th of June 2019 from www.singstat.gov.sg/.

  3. 3.

    Our main analyses only cover 81 projects due to a missing variable on one of the projects.

  4. 4.

    Some scholars (e.g. Kaplan and Saccuzzo 1982: 106) recommend a Cronbach’s Alpha above .7. Although the value for senior management and network resources is only marginally below this limit, some cautiousness should be applied when interpreting the results associated with these variables.

  5. 5.

    We do not report marginal effects for the moderation of financial resources due to the lack of significance of the main results.


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We would like to acknowledge Mr Philip Lim, the Chief Executive Officer of Accelerate Technologies Pte Ltd, for his support of the study.

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Cheah, S., Bellavitis, C. & Muscio, A. The impact of technology complexity on the financial performance of R&D projects: evidence from Singapore. J Technol Transf (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-020-09777-7

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  • Technology complexity
  • Performance
  • Singapore
  • Public research institution
  • Academic entrepreneurship

JEL Classification

  • M10
  • O31
  • O32
  • O34