Relational ties, innovation, and performance: A tale of two pathways

Jeff Jianfeng Wang*, Weilei Shi, Lisa Ya Lin, Xuyan Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)


    Relational ties are valuable resources that can generate substantial advantages for firms. Multiple studies show that relational ties enhance firm performance, but whether and how innovation intervenes in this process is largely unknown. This study examines how relational ties affect firm performance via two types of innovation. Drawing on the relational ties literature and exploration/exploitation literature, we differentiate between two types of ties (business ties versus political ties) and investigate how innovation (exploration versus exploitation) mediates relational ties and firm performance in two distinct ways. Survey data from China's semiconductor and pharmaceutical industries, both innovation-oriented industries, suggests that firms' business ties with buyers, suppliers, and competitors are more related to exploratory innovation, while their political ties with government officials are more related to exploitative innovation. Interestingly, competitive intensity demonstrates distinct moderating effects on both of these pathways.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)28-39
    Number of pages12
    JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Marketing

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Exploitation
    • Exploration
    • Innovation
    • Relational ties
    • Transition market


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