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THEORETICAL BACKGROUND

    For many high technology startups technology strategy is a central part of the firm's strategy posture. It comprises the management of technological innovation for competitive advantage by developing and allocating technological resources (McGee & Dowling, 1994). Recently, R&D collaboration has become an increasingly important part of technology strategies of new companies. Most research in technology strategy, however, deals with large companies; few studies have looked at how collaboration affects entrepreneurial startups.

    So far the studies on the effects of cooperative strategies on startup performance have found somewhat inconclusive results. McGee and Dowling (1994) found marginal support for the view that high–technology firms engaging in cooperative business activities have higher sales growth, and Shan (1990) proposed that biotechnology firms engaging in cooperative behavior were better positioned competitively. These results are also consistent with Powell et al. (1996) who found a positive relationship between collaborative experience, number of ties, and firm growth. On the other hand, Mosakowski (1991) showed that contract R&D led to lower performance in a sample of new computer ventures.

    One way to further explore the relationship between new venture collaboration and firm outcomes is to more thoroughly analyze the structure of the relationships and the identity of collaborative partners. Whereas there exist some studies that explore the determinants of partner selection, few studies use partner choice as the independent variable.

    The purpose of this paper is also to further examine the link between cooperative technology strategies and a broader set of organizational outcomes; including growth and two types of innovative output. The existing research on young organizations has examined various outcomes that are important to new ventures: survival (Romanelli, 1989; Bruderl, Preisendörfer & Ziegler, 1992), organizational growth (Eisenhardt & Schoonhoven, 1990; Feeser & Willard, 1990), alliance formation (Eisenhardt & Schoonhoven, 1996), and first product introductions (Schoonhoven et al., 1990), but innovative output has received less attention; presumably because it is harder to measure.

    This study focuses on collaborative factors that influence growth and innovative output of startups, and it aims at showing that relationship arrangements have a strong effect on the type of innovative output the new venture is likely to produce. This research question can be studies from the point of view of various theories. We chose to look at two at the opposite ends of the spectrum: resource–based view and industrial organization based theories. In the following, we first discuss collaboration and its effects from the perspective of the resource–based view, and then turn to industrial organization explanations.

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