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Keywords:

  • R&D;
  • search;
  • slack;
  • bankruptcy;
  • behavioral theory of the firm;
  • institutionalized search

Abstract

Our theory extends the situational considerations explaining firm R&D search intensity beyond the behavioral theory of the firm by including shifts in the focus of attention among bankruptcy, aspirations, and slack. We also allow that search can reflect institutionalized investment patterns within firms and industries. We find stable firm-specific R&D investment patterns (i.e., institutionalized search) and variations in R&D intensity depending on firms' situations—including performance relative to aspirations, proximity to bankruptcy, and slack. Our empirical results evidence shifts in the focus of attention relevant to explaining R&D search intensity for subsamples of firms in different situations. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.