Resource acquisition in innovation collaboration networks: evidence from co-patenting activities in China

  • Qinjie Yang

Student thesis: PhD Thesis


How can actors in innovation collaboration network effectively compete for resources and achieve high innovation performance? In this dissertation, I venture a detailed examination of the network structure, process, and multiple actors or actors in innovation collaboration network as well as competition strategy these actors utilize to acquire network resources and attention. The recent decades, China has experienced a surge in patent applications and grants, ranking the country as the top one in international PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) patent applications in 2023. These miracles provide scholars with a valuable opportunity to explore the antecedents, processes, mechanisms, and outcomes of innovation activities in emerging market’s from both organizational and regional levels. My thesis keeps up with the times and aims to explore further in these fields. Three distinct studies constitute the core of my thesis. In the first study, I examine how a focal broker can compete network resources with its shadow brokers and enhance its innovation outcomes. We are also interested in the institutional and technological distinctiveness of both the focal broker and its competitors. In the second study, I examine whether an increase of brokerage partner diversity brings more novel knowledge to a firm and thereby speeds up innovation or incurs higher coordinating costs to the firm and thus slows down innovation speed. I also add a temporal perspective and conduct dynamic network process research. In the third study, I shift my attention from the organizational level to the regional level and examine how direct and indirect ties affect innovation performance in a focal city. The introduction of the perspectives of network resource suppliers, potential competitors, and focal city foci broadens the observation scale. Taken together, I examine the resource competition within the brokerage and in/direct network literature while also presenting insights on how an actor can acquire resources from these structures and processes. My thesis has several theoretical and practical contributions. I creatively explore resource competition by proposing concepts such as exclusive and shared brokerage, brokerage partner diversity, and relative collaboration status, thus enriching research on network structure and brokerage. Meanwhile, I examine multiple actors and their ties in networks, which shifts the traditional focus from merely focal actors. Based on it, I also explore important contingent effects, such as network features, regional institutions, technology proximity, and temporal factors, to establish boundary conditions for my research and investigate into competition for resources from both static and dynamic perspectives. My thesis also provides critical implications for both entrepreneurs and policymakers. Corporations are supposed to enhance their own innovation abilities and implement innovation strategies by considering other network actors that are structurally equivalent with them, thereby succeeding in contending resources. Policymakers are also expected to nurture a market environment and support innovation and entrepreneurial activities.
Date of AwardJul 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Nottingham
SupervisorCong Cao (Supervisor), Jiaoe WANG (Supervisor) & Zhijing Zhu (Supervisor)


  • resource competition
  • brokerage structure
  • brokerage process
  • in/direct partners
  • innovation collaboration networks

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