Technological Capability and Inter-Organizational Collaboration in an Emerging Economy

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Rajenthyran Ayavoo


Technological capability (TC) is an important source of competitive advantage for firms in emerging economies. The economic performance of Newly Industrializing Countries (NICs) - four Asian Tigers, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan have developed relatively strong TC, which is the major factor for rapid export growth and economic development. Technology and TC have become the centre of competition in the world market. The development of TC has been studied in a large body of literature. However, TC building in emerging economies was not clearly understood, in particularly how firm develop TC remain under explore area of research in the context of emerging economies. Therefore, the main aim of this thesis is to examine to what extent formal inter- organizational collaboration (IOC) affects TC building in emerging economies. It focuses on the relationship with TC building of two collaboration strategies: IOC-breadth and IOC-depth, and also investigates the influence of IOC-depth on TC development with suppliers, customers, competitors, consultants, private R&D, universities and government research institutions. The research employed a mixed-method approach. For the quantitative method, firm-level data from 445 Malaysian manufacturing firms were collected from the sixth series of the Malaysian National Survey of Innovation; and the qualitative approach undertook 30 in-depth interviews from 15 manufacturing firms’ senior managers and two policy-makers. The results have revealed that IOC for innovation plays an important role in firms’ TC building in emerging economies. Both IOC-breadth and IOC- depth are important collaboration strategies, especially IOC-depth, with customers, suppliers, and consultants as the most important partners for TC development. IOC-depth with universities and government research institutions is relatively weak, and with competitors and private research institutes is inadvisable because of the risk associated with unplanned knowledge spillovers. SMEs tends to trade-off wider collaboration (IOC-breadth) in favour of deeper collaboration (IOC-depth) for their TC development. This research contributes to the theory of evolutionary economics by linking two streams of literature, TC and IOC, from the perspective of an emerging economy. This theory, in both sets of literature, highlights the significance of IOC with different partners for firms’ TC development. This research also contributes to the literature through understanding the nature of TC development in emerging economies and mapped relevant policy implications in Malaysia and even in other developing countries.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date31 Dec 2020