Knowledge acquisition in international strategic alliances among Malaysian manufacturing firms
This thesis examines the process of knowledge acquisition by Malaysian manufacturing firms through their involvement in international strategic alliances. The strategic alliances can be with or without equity involvement. Firms involved with a foreign partner with equity involvement are joint venture firms while non-equity involvement are firms that engaged in contractual agreements. Using empirical evidence from 65 international alliances gathered through a survey conducted in high-technology manufacturing sectors, several factors that influence the process of knowledge acquisition are examined. The factors are: learning capacity, experience, goals, active involvement and accessibility to the foreign knowledge. Censored regression analysis and ordered probit analysis are used to analyse the effects of these factors on knowledge acquisition and its determinant parts, and the effects of knowledge acquisition and its determinants on the performance of the alliances. A second questionnaire gathered evidence relating to the factors, which encouraged tacit knowledge transfer between the foreign and Malaysian partners in international alliances. The key findings of the study are: knowledge acquisition in international strategic alliances is influenced by five determining factors; learning capacity, experience, articulated goals, active involvement and accessibility; new technology knowledge, product development knowledge and manufacturing process knowledge are influenced differently by the determining factors; knowledge acquisition and its determinant factors have a significant impact on the firm’s performance; cultural differences tend to moderate the effect on the firm’s performance; acquiring tacit knowledge is not only influenced by the five determinant factors but also by other factors, such as dependency, accessibility, trust, manufacturing control, learning methods and organisational systems; Malaysian firms involved in joint ventures tend to acquire more knowledge than those involved in contractual agreements, but joint ventures also exhibit higher degrees of dependency than contractual agreements; and the presence of R&D activity in the Malaysian partner encourages knowledge acquisition, but the amount of R&D expenditure has no effect on knowledge acquisition.