Complementary Assets

Complementary assets are assets, infrastructure or capabilities needed to support the successful commercialization and marketing of a technological innovation, other than those assets fundamentally associated with that innovation. The term was first coined by David Teece. Key empirical studies on complementary assets were conducted by Frank T. Rothaermel.

Complementary assets are broken down into three general types:

  1. Generic assets: "general purpose" assets which do not need to be tailored to a particular innovation;
  2. Specialized assets: unilateral dependence between the innovation and the complementary asset;
  3. Cospecialized assets: bilateral dependence between the innovation and the complementary asset.

Complementary assets, among other factors, are important for organizations wishing to commercialize and profit from an innovation.

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Complementary Assets - Examples
... New biotechnology firms often lack the complementary assets to commercialize their innovations and thus form collaborative partnerships with large incumbent firms who do possess the ... their complementary assets (Teece 1986) ...