Title

New blood as an elixir of youth: Effects of human capital tenure on the explorative capability of aging firms

Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

7-2016

Abstract

The relationship between firm age and innovation has been an enduring topic of interest. We contribute to this research by studying how the effect of firm age on the quality of explorative and exploitative innovations is affected by the firm-specific and industry tenure of the talent resources (employees) that the firm utilizes. We start with the baseline predictions that firm age is related to the development of better exploitative innovations and worse explorative innovations. However, the tenure of employees intervenes in these relationships, by way of bringing in new knowledge, mental models, and beliefs. We predict that longer firm-specific and industry tenure of employees enhances the positive effect of firm age on the quality of exploitative innovations, while amplifying the negative effect of firm age on the quality of explorative innovations. In addition, for both the baseline and the moderating effect, we also formulate a prediction comparing the quality of explorative innovations with those of exploitative innovations. We find support for the moderating effects of human capital tenure for the quality of explorative innovations, but not for the quality of exploitative innovations. We reason that the latter may be due to the need for some level of exploration even in exploitative innovations, at least in the setting we study—the video game industry. Our results suggest that the negative effects of firm age on the quality of explorative innovations can be mitigated by talent resources (employees) the firm uses who have lower firm-specific and industrywide tenure.

Keywords

exploration, exploitation, innovation, inertia, creative industries

Discipline

Strategic Management Policy | Technology and Innovation

Research Areas

Strategy and Organisation

Publication

Organization Science

Volume

27

Issue

4

First Page

873

Last Page

892

ISSN

1047-7039

Identifier

10.1287/orsc.2016.1067

Publisher

INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences)

Additional URL

http://doi.org/10.1287/orsc.2016.1067

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