Survival of businesses using collaborative relationships to commercialize complex goods
Authors with many theoretical and managerial perspectives argue that businesses commercializing technologically complex goods benefit when they collaborate closely with other businesses. Collaboration is viewed as a means for businesses to overcome competency limitations and to achieve the close configuration of components required for complex goods. We predict that collaborative relationships often assist businesses to produce complex goods, but that the relationships might also cause problems for the collaborating businesses. We find that firms using development-oriented and marketing-oriented collaborative relationships in the hospital software systems industry are less likely to shut down than businesses that follow independent approaches when the environment changes gradually, but businesses using collaborative relationships are sometimes susceptible to being acquired by other firms. Following a sudden environmental shock, businesses with collaborative relationships for activities central to the shock became more likely to shut down, while businesses with collaborative relationships for activities outside the focus of the shock became more likely to survive. The study critically evaluates and tests the widely stated but little-tested argument that interfirm collaboration is usually beneficial. The results address the issue of whether organizational choices affect comparative business performance.