The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between industry association membership and firm innovation in Chinese private ventures. A secondary objective is to investigate potential moderating effects of firm learning practices and founder characteristics on the above relationship, and to draw out implications for policymakers and practitioners.
The paper utilizes data from a sample of 567 Chinese entrepreneurial firms operating in 9 designated emerging industries. Hierarchical regression models were employed to analyze the effect of industry association membership on firm innovation, and the potential moderating effects. A 2SLS procedure was adopted to control for potential endogeneity issue. Supplemental analyses were conducted to ensure the robustness of the findings.
The paper provides empirical insights about how industry association membership, along with firm learning practice and founder leadership, affect firm innovation in Chinese private ventures in emerging industries. It suggests that industry association membership positively affects firm innovation. Further, there is a three-way interaction effect of industry association membership, learning practice and founder power on innovation.
Due to the design of the data set, there are some limitations. First, the study only considered whether a firm belongs to an industry association, but not the nature of such membership (length, firm status in the association, etc.). Second, the cross-sectional design may limit the power of the study to make casual implications about the tested relationships.
The paper provides important practical implications for policymakers and entrepreneurs in China. In general, the results suggest that private ventures pursuing innovation in emerging industries can benefit from industry associations, and entrepreneurs shall actively engage in firm-level and personal-level learning. For policymakers, the study suggests that to foster innovation in an emerging industry, special attention shall be paid to building necessary institutional support to develop and to strengthen the role of industry association in the industry.
This paper fulfills an important gap in the literature in that it is one of the first, which investigates the role of the industry association in firm innovation, especially in a non-western context. This paper provides new insights into the role of industry association and firm innovation in an under-researched developing economy context.