Interplay between internal investment and alliance specialization in R&D and marketing

Jongkuk Lee, Young Bong Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


A firm's efforts to build its technological and marketing capabilities are not limited to internal investments but can be extended to include external knowledge acquisitions. We examine the interaction between a firm's specialization in R&D or marketing through its internal investments and its alliances in two different industrial contexts. Our results, based on secondary data sources such as Compustat and SDC Platinum from 1985 to 2009, show that the interaction effects of internal specialization and alliance specialization are contingent on the types of tasks (i.e., R&D and marketing) and the industrial context (i.e., high- and low-tech industries). Our findings indicate that a firm in a high-tech industry is able to achieve greater gains by complementing its internal focus on R&D with its external focus on marketing or by focusing on R&D both internally and externally. In contrast, a firm in a low-tech industry is able to achieve greater performance when R&D and marketing complement each other, without regard for how they are aligned through internal investments and alliances. The firm is also able to improve its performance by focusing on marketing both internally and externally. These findings provide new insights into the complementarity between internal investments and alliances.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)813-825
Number of pages13
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Alliance specialization
  • Industrial context
  • Internal specialization
  • Marketing
  • Research and development


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