Interorganizational collaborations have shown to increase the innovation performance of firms. Within the innovation literature, considerable attention has been given to the role of supplying firms. Suppliers are found to increase both the process and product innovation performance of buying firms. However, not all suppliers are capable of supporting collaborative innovation processes. Selecting the wrong supplier might even lead to a negative innovation performance of the buying firm. Literature thus far does not provide sufficient answers as to what distinguishes innovative suppliers capable of contributing to the buyers innovation. This paper aims to fill this gap by analyzing the antecedents of innovative suppliers within the buyer-supplier relationship. More specifically, it examines the effect of (1) supplier characteristics and (2) buyer-supplier dyadic characteristics on supplier performance in buyer-supplier innovations. The supplier characteristics are defined by the suppliers innovative capabilities, specialization of the supplier, and relatively underexposed in literature and practice a suppliers collaborative attitude. The dyadic characteristics refer to the relationship of the buyer and supplier. The buyer-supplier dyad is reflected by the existence of joint development programs and preferred customer status, which is a novel concept encompassing preferential treatment of a supplier towards the buying firm. Based on data of 242 suppliers, it is found that both the supplier- and dyadic characteristics positively affect the performance of a supplier in buyer-supplier innovations. This papers main contribution is the explanation of the importance of a suppliers collaborative attitude and the dyadic characteristics to a suppliers innovation performance in buyer-supplier collaborations. In addition, a positive moderating effect of a suppliers collaborative attitude on joint development programs and a suppliers innovation capabilities is observed. This indicates that if suppliers have a strong collaborative attitude, the partners are better able to utilize the buyer-supplier interface. The findings of this study explain why some suppliers perform better than others in buyer-supplier innovations and help managers in sourcing the right supplier.
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