Although one tenet in the alliance literature is that firms learn from prior experience, we posit that any potential learning effects depend on the type of experience. In particular, we hypothesize that alliance exploitation experience has positive effects on R&D project performance, while alliance exploration experience has negative effects. We further posit that an internal exploration competence allows firms to leverage their external exploitation experience more fully. In contrast, when firms combine internal exploitation experience with external exploration experience, the negative effects on R&D project performance become more pronounced. To test this integrative model of organizational learning, we leverage a unique and detailed dataset of 412 R&D projects in biotechnology conducted by large pharmaceutical companies between 1980 and 2000. Using a competing risk event history model predicting successful product approval versus project termination, we find support for our theoretical model.
HOANG, H. et ROTHAERMEL, F.T. (2010). Leveraging Internal and External Experience: Exploration, Exploitation, and R&D Project Performance. Strategic Management Journal, 31(7), pp. 734-758.