By responding to the call for a multidimensional approach in the open innovation domain, the present work aims to clarify the interplay of different internal R&D resources as microfoundations through which exploratory openness is encouraged and enacted. By combining the use of fuzzy- set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) and process tracing, we undertake an in-depth analysis of specific causal mechanisms, linking a combination of internal R&D resources to predicting biopharmaceutical exploratory openness. In line with the theoretical framework, the breadth and depth of the firm knowledge base were translated into three different sources of diversity, which represent the three fsQCA conditions: R&D team composition, corporate research relationships, and R&D resource allocation. The study reveals that diversity in R&D resources contributes in a multifaceted way to firms' exploratory openness and is determined by the interactions among different dimensions of diversity.
Since the seminal work of Chesbrough (2003), cited cases and evidence from the pharmaceutical industry have been widely used to illustrate and develop the open innovation (OI) framework (Gassmann & Reepmeyer, 2005; Rothaermel, 2001; Schuhmacher, Gassmann, McCracken, & Hinder, 2018; Schuhmacher, Germann, Trill, & Gassmann, 2013). In the emerging biopharmaceutical industry (biopharma), the characteristics of technologies, their complexity, and multi-sectoral market responsiveness have led these firms to a completely new approach to innovation (Aamir et al., 2014). Indeed, the extensive use of technological collaborations has been demonstrated to be a vital factor in all the different phases of pipeline development, including discovering opportunities, testing ideas, and gathering resources for market innovation (Bianchi, Cavaliere, Chiaroni, Frattini, & Chiesa, 2011; Bianchi, Croce, Dell'Era, Di Benedetto, & Frattini, 2016; Hunter, 2014; Lo Nigro, Morreale, & Gianluca, 2014). Many studies in the field focus on OI practices, tied to a company's research and development (R&D) strategy (Henkel, Schöberl, & Alexy, 2014; Schuhmacher et al., 2013; Schuhmacher et al., 2018), and the literature empirically investigates biopharmaceutical openness by distinguishing between technology exploration (i.e. activities to acquire new knowledge and technologies) and exploitation (i.e. practices to improve profit from internal knowledge) (Bianchi et al., 2016; Xia & Roper, 2016). Exploratory relationships are the most diffused in biopharma and form the predominant content of R&D efforts (Schroll & Mild, 2011; Xia & Roper, 2016). Scholars refer to different OI practices as inbound and outbound (Chesbrough & Bogers, 2014), and some authors have argued that these two types of practices are based on different patterns of inter-organisational knowledge flows, which facilitate various forms of innovation (Xia & Roper, 2016).