This paper studies the impact of the interactive effect of knowledge characteristics – tacitness, specificity and availability— and resource structure —complementarily and asymmetric—on learning race behavior among International Joint Venture (IJV) partners in China.
Preliminary in-depth interviews with three IJV managers were conducted to develop and evaluate the tentatively developed questionnaire. The finalized survey questionnaire was distributed to middle and top-level managers of IJVs, resulting in a total of 124 usable surveys. The psychometric properties of data were evaluated using Cronbach’s alpha and confirmatory factor analysis, and hypotheses were tested using a Generalized Linear Model.
The results show that partners in IJV have low tendencies to acquire tacit and specific knowledge, but, when the resource is complementary, it stimulates the learning race. Also, when resources are asymmetric, IJV partners engage in the learning race more aggressively, particularly for highly specific knowledge. The situation reverses for highly available knowledge.
The findings provide important insights for both researchers and managers on knowledge characteristics and resource structure influencing learning race behavior. This insight allows firms to leverage features of knowledge and resource conditions to prevent or facilitate the learning race for either common or private interests.