From capability to connectivity-Absorptive capacity and exploratory alliances in biopharmaceutical firms: A US-Europe comparison

Tianjiao Xia, Stephen Roper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we explore the relationship between aspects of firms' potential absorptive capacity (PACAP) on their involvement in exploratory alliances. Our study is based on survey data from firms in the US and European (the UK, Germany, France and Ireland) biopharmaceutical sectors. We use zero inflated negative binomial (ZINB) models to capture the number of exploratory alliances in which firms are engaged, and find that the assimilation dimension of PACAP is significantly more important than the acquisition dimension. More specifically, we find that skill levels and continuous R&D play an important role in determining biopharmaceutical firms' exploratory alliance activity, while R&D intensity proves relatively unimportant. Our results also highlight differences between the determinants of alliance behaviour in the US and Europe: in the US firms' skill levels prove more significant, while in Europe continuity of R&D proves more significant. Commonalities are also observed, however, with firms' strategic focus and an inverted 'U' shaped relationship between firm size and alliance engagement evident in both areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)776-785
Number of pages10
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Absorptive capacity
  • Alliances
  • Biotechnology
  • Europe
  • US

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