External Knowledge Sourcing Strategies through Corporate Venture Capital Investment: Focusing on Investors Innovation Performance, Organizational Structure, and Portfolio Composition
기업벤처캐피털 투자를 통한 외부지식습득 전략: 투자기업의 혁신성과와 조직구조, 투자 포트폴리오 구성을 중심으로
- 공과대학 협동과정 기술경영·경제·정책전공
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 대학원
- Corporate venture capital (CVC); external knowledge sourcing strategy; technology diversification; investment portfolio; structural autonomy; exploration and exploitation
- 학위논문 (박사)-- 서울대학교 대학원 : 공과대학 협동과정 기술경영·경제·정책전공, 2018. 2. 강진아.
- In a modern industrial environment, technological paradigm shifts rapidly and uncertainty is high. Firms face extreme difficulties on predicting which technology can achieve sustainable competitive advantage over other competing firms. In particular, incumbent firms that have already accumulated a significant amount of knowledge and resources in specific technology areas face more difficulties creating new knowledge to help prepare for future changes. In order to overcome these obstacles, it is essential for incumbent firms to combine internal R&D strategies and external sourcing strategies that utilize their existing knowledge while acquiring innovation capabilities outside the organization.
Recently, corporate venture capital (CVC) has emerged as an important strategic method to find new knowledge and business opportunities from venture companies with high technological potential. CVC investment enables corporate investors to explore information on unfamiliar new business areas or technologies that can be leveraged on current businesses. Further, after the CVC investment, corporate investors can acquire investment target companies knowledge directly through other sourcing strategies such as strategic alliances or M&A. In fact, in the IT or bio industry where venture companies lead the cutting edge of technological innovation, many incumbent firms are already looking for new innovation opportunities through CVC investment . This trend is continuing in the traditional manufacturing sectors too.
In the academic world, active research is being conducted on the role and value of CVC as a technology innovation strategy. Many empirical studies have shown that corporate investors enjoy positive effects such as improvement of innovation performance or actual corporate value, there are a number of studies on investment portfolio management to obtain more efficient investment performance. However, most of the previous studies have put large emphasis only on the quantitative aspects of firm value or innovation, while not focusing on specific details such as diversity of knowledge or types of innovation that can be acquired through CVC investments. The diversity of knowledge is an essential quality for an incumbent firm in responding to future environmental changes. Moreover, since the types of innovation that results from the CVC investment reflect the strategic objective of corporate investor, more in-depth discussion is essential and necessary in order to achieve a comprehensive understanding of CVC investments. Considering the interests in the academic research and the practical significance of CVC innovation processes, this dissertation deals with three individual studies on CVC investments, namely, technological diversification through CVC investments, organizational determinants of CVC portfolio diversification, and exploration and exploitation through CVC investments. Each study covers different aspects of CVC investment activities as a method of organizational learning or external knowledge sourcing strategy. Synthetically, this dissertation explores the nature of the firms innovation strategy through CVC investment and analyzes the effects of specific organizational structures and decision-making processes on the efficiency of investments.
Specifically, Chapter 3 of this dissertation examines the effect of CVC investments on the technological diversification of investment firms as an option creation strategy for expanding dynamic capabilities of the firms. Previous research and related surveys that discuss the strategic purpose of CVC investments have commonly dealt with the effect of expanding the knowledge base of the investment firms by exploring new knowledge in target venture firms. In other words, the incumbent firm uses CVC investments to increase the diversity of knowledge and technological options that can be utilized in the future by acquiring new knowledge which is different from the investors existing knowledge. However, despite this importance, there have been few studies that have conducted empirical analysis on the effects of knowledge diversification. In order to fill this research gap, this chapter conducts an empirical analysis of how the amount of resources invested in CVC and the industrial diversity of the investment portfolio affect to the technology diversification of the corporate investor. As a result, the empirical analysis has shown that the total amount of CVC investments and the industrial diversity of portfolio firm have curvilinear (inverted U-shaped) relationship with their technology diversification which is based on the high-tech firms in the U.S. which have experience in CVC investments between 1990 and 2010. Moreover, the empirical results indicate that the absorptive capacity of corporate investors positively moderates the effects of CVC investments on the technological diversity. This result shows that CVC investments have an effect of increasing corporate investors technological diversification. However, limitations still exist, therefore, the investment firms should not neglect efforts on pursuing internal R&D activities to increase their absorptive capacity.
Chapter 4 executes more in-depth analysis on the details of CVC investment portfolio diversification strategy. As previously mentioned, in order for incumbent firms to access various external knowledge pools through CVC investments, a diversified investment portfolio consisting of venture firms engaged in various technological and industrial areas should be constructed. However, in reality, many CVC investors do not operate diversified portfolio, but rather focuses their investments in small and specific technology areas. This chapter suggests that the differences in the degree of investment portfolio diversification among CVC investors are caused by the different managerial attention of corporate investors which can affect their strategic decision-making when selecting investments targets. Specifically, this research conducts an empirical analysis on the roles of three antecedent factors that can affect corporate investors managerial attention regarding the investment target selection such as top management team (TMT) members background homogeneity, lack of organizational slack resources, and structural autonomy given to the managers of CVC dedicated units. As a result of analysis, this research has shown that the corporate investors which have homogeneous TMT members and organizational slack resource constraints tend to operate more specialized CVC portfolios rather than diversified portfolios. On the contrary, the corporate investors which assign more decision-making authority to the managerial level of CVC dedicated units were commonly operate more diversified CVC portfolios in various technology areas. These results suggest a managerial implication that if a CVC investment firm wants to access a diverse knowledge pool, it is important to ensure the structural autonomy of CVC dedicated units to be unrestricted from the interference of TMT members strategically homogenized interests and organizational resource constraints.
However, this structural autonomy of CVC dedicated unit has the potential to play a different role at times, depending on the type of innovation that corporate investors seek to achieve through CVC investments. It is possible that having a free and adventurous investment propensity with more structural autonomy may not always lead to appropriate innovation performance in desired direction. Among the CVC investment firms, some of them are primarily focused on exploring new business opportunities and unfamiliar knowledge that can be used in the future, while others have primary purpose in acquiring high quality knowledge in familiar technology areas to strengthen their current business areas. Therefore, Chapter 5 of this dissertation examines how the structural autonomy given to the CVC dedicated units affects the two different aspects of innovation
exploration and exploitation. Moreover, in the resource perspective, the effect of investor firms internal technological diversity on two kinds of innovation performance. As a result of empirical analysis, it can be found that the CVC dedicated units, which have been granted more structural autonomy, have gained positive impact in explorative innovation activities through free investment target selection in various technology areas. On the other hand, this structural autonomy paradoxically implies a break from the long-term accumulated knowledge and the professional human resources of CVC parent firm. Therefore, it has negative relationship with exploitative innovation which necessarily needs the combination of newly acquired knowledge and existing knowledge base. In addition, I also find that the corporate investors internal technological diversity is positively related with both of subsequent exploration and exploitation performance through CVC investments. These results indicate that the corporate investors will be able to obtain the innovation output in the desired direction by deciding the kind of innovation they want and how to operate the CVC units and how to managing the internal knowledge base.
In conclusion, this dissertation deals with the role of CVC investments on accessing external knowledge sources and seizing new business opportunities. It specifically contributes to the academic literatures about the strategic values and organizational characteristics of CVC investments as method of technology diversification. Moreover, it suggests useful managerial implications for more efficient operation of CVC investment organization. The main results and implications of this research are as follows. First, this research identifies the effects of CVC investments on the technological diversification of corporate investors and puts emphasis on the importance of absorptive capacity as a recommended way to improve those effects. Secondly, this research shows that CVC dedicated units need to operate structurally autonomous, specifically, distant from parent firms interferences such as TMT members strategic interests and organizational resources constraints in order to establish a diversified investment portfolio and to access more diverse pools of external knowledge. Finally, this research identifies the structural autonomy of CVC dedicated units as a helpful entity to explorative innovation for long-term change
however, it is negatively related with the exploitative innovation form short-term gains. This suggests that the operation of the CVC department should be changed according to the strategic objectives of the corporate investor.