Taking the First Step - What Determines German Laser Source Manufacturers' Entry into Innovation Networks?
Early access to technological knowledge embodied in the industry’s innovation network can provide an important competitive advantage to firms. While the literature provides much evidence on the positive effects of innovation networks on firms’ performance, not much is known about the determinants of firms’ initial entry into such networks. We analyze firms’ timing and propensity to enter the industry’s innovation network. More precisely, we seek to shed some light on the factors affecting the duration between firm founding and its first cooperation event. In doing so, we apply a unique longitudinal event history dataset based on the full population of German laser source manufacturers. Innovation network data stem from official databases providing detailed information on the organizations involved, subject of joint research and development (R&D) efforts as well as start and end times for all publically funded R&D projects between 1990 and 2010. Estimation results from a non-parametric event history model indicate that micro firms enter the network later than small-sized or large firms. An in-depth analysis of the size effects for medium-sized firms provides some unexpected findings. The choice of cooperation type makes no significant difference for the firms’ timing to enter the network. Finally, the analysis of geographical determinants shows that cluster membership can, but do not necessarily, affect a firm’s timing to cooperate.