Traditionally, R&D studies focus on organisational characteristics and internal context factor effects on a firm's R&D activities. This paper extends previous research by analysing firm-level R&D expenditures in the wider context of inter-organisational networks. Using a sample of 2002 manufacturing firms in Italy, it provides evidence that R&D intensity is linked to a firm's positioning within an industrial group's hierarchy. Further tests on the antecedents of R&D expenditures are carried out in relation to the effects of firm characteristics and industry factors. Important findings include a significant and positive association between R&D intensity and the firm's size, performance, intangible assets and industry concentration. These findings suggest that, in addition to firm-level factors and its market environment, network resources and organisation may play an important role in driving the intensity of the firm's R&D expenditures.