As part of our ongoing profiles of TIM people, let us introduce Solon Moreira, of IESE Business School, in Barcelona, Catalyuna, Spain. Solon, so…

What are your research interests right now?

Since my PhD I have been primarily interested in understanding two main questions related to innovation: 1) What drives firms to innovate, and 2) how they actually create innovations. Most of my projects have focused on technology licensing and markets for technology in the pharmaceutical industry. For example, I currently examine how downstream product market competition pushes firms to enter into licensing deals as a way to update their R&D capabilities and catch up with competition. As a part of this research agenda, I have also been studying how the amount of coverage firms receive from financial analysts affect their external knowledge sourcing such as licensing-in decisions. A broad goal of mine is to sharpen conceptually and empirically the distinction between technology licensing and other forms of knowledge sourcing that firms can deploy to access external knowledge. While I believe that that licensing and alliances share similarities to the extent that firms can use both to seek external knowledge, licensing is much closer to a market transaction in which one firm sells and the other buys a technology while alliances are primarily based on mutual collaborative efforts. I find that when this and other distinctions are accounted for, we open up several worthwhile research venues for innovation research.

What do you think is your most exciting contribution to academia?

One project that I find particularly interesting is related to my 2018 publication in SMJ about the effect of intrafirm inventor networks on the speed with which firms are able to absorb unfamiliar knowledge. In that project we constructed intrafirm networks based on co-invention collaborations and computed the levels of knowledge diversity and density shared among individual scientist in the network. We then examine how these two characteristics alleviate the issues that firms have when trying to deal with unfamiliar external knowledge that they acquire through licensing. I find this project particularly interesting for two main reasons. First, it helps understanding the antecedents of firm level absorptive capacity departing from a layer inside the organization that is neither at the individual nor at the firm level, but actually resides at the network level. Second, most of the licensing literature has been focused on the supply side of the markets for technology by examining the motivations behind firm out-licensing decision. Only more recently we started observing an increasing number of papers interested in the demand side of the markets. This paper joins this growing research stream by explaining why some firms may be better able than others in integrating and making productive use of licensed-in knowledge. I discovered that some of these insights are appreciated also by practitioner oriented audiences. This year I have shared some of the findings in this paper in a corporate entrepreneurship class with my MBA students and executives. I was very encouraged with the interest that it sparked among the students around this topic. They were particularly interested in academic findings and theories that I could share to help them managing and organizing R&D within (their) companies.

Tell us something personal about yourself.

I was not sure what to answer… I asked my wife Lorena to help me find something personal about myself that could be interesting to share. We agreed that the most exciting thing going on in my life right now is the fact that I recently became a first time dad to a beautiful baby boy – Jose Lucas. I love to spend time with him watching how he grows and changes every day! Another interesting thing that I can share is that despite being Brazilian I don’t play soccer at all. I have always experienced situations where my colleagues in academia plan soccer games and take for granted that having a Brazilian in their team will give them an advantage. Big mistake! I think I never met a worse soccer player than myself.

Thanks Solon!

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