This paper studies possible complementarities and substitution effects between such strategic choices as alliances, acquisitions and internal R&D investments. The findings indicate that a firm’s absorptive capacity affects the presence of complementarities and substitution effects among those strategic choices. Firms with high absorptive capacity exhibit substitution effects between alliances and acquisitions and between alliances and internal R&D investments. Firms with high absorptive capacity also exhibit complementarities between acquisitions and additional R&D investments. These results were obtained from panel data of large and medium U.S. companies spanning the years 1998-2009. The results are robust to the use of different measures of performance: profitability, market-to-book value, and sales growth. This paper contributes to our understanding of the role of absorptive capacity for the optimal choice of inter-organizational strategy vs. greater internal R&D investments.
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