Small Firms and Search Strategies to Access External Knowledge from Universities: An Empirical Approach in Low-Tech Firms

  • Jose-Luis Hervas-Oliver
  • Joan-Josep Baixauli
  • Bernardo Perez
Conference paper


A firm’s search strategies are innovation inputs from external sources of knowledge. For this matter, a firm needs to be capable of identifying and valuing the potential value of certain external knowledge, i.e. absorptive capacity. In low-tech sectors the flows of external knowledge arising from universities is still inconclusive, specifically for SMEs and low-medium-tech environments. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to explore the pattern of a firm’s search strategy through its absorptive capacity to acquire external flows of knowledge from universities and thus improve its knowledge platform to achieve more efficiency. The paper draws especially on the role of non-R&D innovation activities in low-medium-tech sectors. A logit model is used to estimate the contribution of each variable to the probability that a firm engages in cooperation with universities. Results from 442 firms suggest that human resources and other non-R&D activities are the core drivers explaining the cooperation agreements to access external knowledge from universities. Surprisingly, R&D expenditures do not contribute to the explanation, meaning that R&D efforts are not the core drivers of a firm’s search strategy to innovate.


Absorption Capacity Absorptive Capacity Innovation Activity Cooperation Agreement External Knowledge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Dr. Hervas-Oliver gratefully thanks the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN) for financial support under grant project ECO:2010–17318 “Innovation and Clusters through Absorptive Capacity,” and the Institut Ignaci Villalonga (Valencia) for continuous support and funding. Standard disclaimers apply.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jose-Luis Hervas-Oliver
    • 1
  • Joan-Josep Baixauli
    • 2
  • Bernardo Perez
    • 3
  1. 1.MIN, Department of Management (DOE)Universitat Politècnica de València (Spain) and Florida State University (U.S.)ValenciaSpain
  2. 2.MIN, Department of Management (DOE)Universitat Politècnica de ValènciaValenciaSpain
  3. 3.Universidad Politecnica Valencia DOE, Business OrganizationValenciaSpain

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