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Exploring the influence of absorptive capacity on German SMEs and their choice for a strategic alliance : Organizational learning through exploration and exploitation

Sippel, T. (2017) Exploring the influence of absorptive capacity on German SMEs and their choice for a strategic alliance : Organizational learning through exploration and exploitation.

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Abstract:Since the last decades, the formation of strategic alliances increases and were recognized as helpful strategy to create competitive advantage. Furthermore, it represents an effective way to develop new skills, to penetrate new markets or to explore new technologies. Strategic alliances are partnerships of at least two organizations that want to achieve strategically objectives. In strategic alliances learning takes place, which relates to the absorptive capacity of the participating organizations and represents one of various reasons to form a strategic alliance. The individual level of absorptive capacity might influence the organizational learning process and finally cause the choice for which type of alliance. The aim of this thesis is to observe the level of absorptive capacity in SMEs and afterwards to determine whether it influences those companies in the formation of alliances. Also a possible moderating effect of environmental turbulence is tested. To achieve these aims the research questions are: ´To what extent does the level of absorptive capacity of SMEs influence the decision to enter either an exploratory or exploitative alliance?´ and ´How is this influence moderated by the level of environmental turbulence?´ In this study, a quantitative research method was used in German SMEs. An online survey was prepared and sent out to 910 German SMEs who fulfill the criteria of a small- or medium sized company according to the definition of the European Commission from 2003. The questions were formulated in German and adopted from different research to test for the level of absorptive capacity and environmental turbulence, and whether more explorative or exploitative relationships takes place. Using a 5-point Likert scale tested all questions. During a time period of 40 days a total of 184 respondents participated in the survey, while 63 respondents finalized the survey. Finally, 53 completed surveys were useable for the data analysis with smartPLS to conduct a structural equation modeling. The analysis of the dataset with smartPLS revealed that a high level of absorptive capacity cause the choice both an explorative and exploitative relationship. The hypothesis that a low degree of absorptive capacity causes the choice for an exploitative relationship was rejected. Additionally, for SMEs no significant moderating effect of environmental turbulence could be proven with this study. This thesis was inspired by the growing amount of strategic alliances across all industries and types of companies. Furthermore, the current literature lacks on actual studies that focus on strategic alliances as learning opportunity for SMEs. From the findings it can be concluded that a high level of absorptive capacity does not only lead to explorative relationships and that environmental turbulence has no influence on the formation.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/72160
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