This study takes an organizational decision-making perspective to examine when firms are likely to utilize CVC units as a mechanism for externalizing R&D. We draw insights from the behavioral theory of the firm to argue that managerial aspirations for innovation-related goals are an important driver of CVC initiatives within firms. We test our argument by examining both the adoption and termination of CVC units for a sample of information technology firms from 1992 to 2003. Results show that a firm is more likely to adopt and less likely to terminate a CVC unit when its innovation performance is closest to its social aspirations. Copyright © 2012 Strategic Management Society.