Industry technical committees, technological distance, and innovation performance
In most technology-based markets, industry technical committees (TCs) that establish new technical standards and specifications have assumed importance for companies as a critical source of information on existing and emerging technologies. In this study, we investigate how the technological distance of a TC from the firm will shape the impact of TC participation on the firm's innovation performance. Specifically, we posit that participation in TCs that are central (low technological distance) to the company's existing product technologies and offerings will contribute to its competence-enhancing innovation whereas participation in TCs that are peripheral (high technological distance) to current technologies and offerings will contribute to its new-competence innovation. Given the need to interpret and apply the information internally, we also consider the moderating effects of the firm's absorptive capacity and knowledge integration mechanisms. The study hypotheses are validated by combining survey-based and archival data related to a sample of 168 US-based wireless telecommunication firms. The findings provide broad support for the study theses and imply the need for companies to carefully plan the nature of their TC participation so as to advance the desired type of innovation. Broader implications for future research on external knowledge sourcing and competence-based innovation are discussed. âº We study the impact of a firm's participation in technical committees on innovation. âº We consider the technological distance of a technical committee from the firm. âº Technologically close technical committees enhance competence-enhancing innovation. âº Technologically distant technical committees enhance new-competence innovation. âº Absorptive capacity and knowledge integration mechanisms moderate the above effects.