We explore how a standardization effort (i.e., when a firm pursues standards to further innovation) involves different search processes for knowledge and innovation outcomes. Using an inductive case study of Vanke, a leading Chinese property developer, we show how varying degrees of knowledge complexity and codification combine to produce a typology of four types of search process: active, integrative, decentralized and passive, resulting in four types of innovation outcome: modular, radical, incremental and architectural. We argue that when the standardization effort in a firm involves highly codified knowledge, incremental and architectural innovation outcomes are fostered, while modular and radical innovations are hindered. We discuss how standardization efforts can result in a second-order innovation capability, and conclude by calling for comparative research in other settings to understand how standardization efforts can be suited to different types of search process in different industry contexts.
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|Published - 1 Feb 2016