Knowing me, knowing you: Inventor mobility and the formation of technology-oriented alliances

Stefan Wagner, Martin Goossen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


We link the hiring of R&D scientists from industry competitors to the subsequent formation of collaborative agreements, namely technology-oriented alliances. By transferring technological knowledge as well as cognitive elements to the hiring firm, mobile inventors foster the alignment of decision frames applied by potential alliance partners in the process of alliance formation thereby making collaboration more likely. Using data on inventor mobility and alliance formation amongst 42 global pharmaceutical firms over 16 years, we show that inventor mobility is positively associated with the likelihood of alliance formation in periods following inventor movements. This relationship becomes more pronounced if these employees bring additional knowledge about their prior firm's technological capabilities and for alliances aimed at technology development rather than for agreements related to technology transfer. It is weakened, however, if the focal firm is already familiar with the competitor's technological capabilities. By revealing these relationships, our study contributes to research on alliance formation, employee mobility, and organizational frames.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2026-2052
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • alliance formation and management
  • interorganizational linkages
  • technology and innovation management


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