Articles, Academic articles
This paper advances novel theory and evidence on the emergence of informal leadership networks in groups that feature no formally designated leaders or authority hierarchies. Integrating insights from relational schema and network theory, we develop and empirically test a 3-step process model. The model’s first hypothesis is that people use a “linear-ordering schema” to process information about leadership relations. Taking this hypothesis as a premise, the second hypothesis argues that whenever an individual experiences a particular leadership attribution to be inconsistent with the linear-ordering schema, s/he will tend to reduce the ensuing cognitive inconsistency by modifying that leadership attribution. Finally, the third hypothesis builds on this inconsistency-reduction mechanism to derive implications about a set of network-structural features (asymmetry, a-cyclicity, transitivity, popularity, and inverse-popularity) that are predicted to endogenously emerge as a group’s informal leadership network evolves. We find broad support for our proposed theoretical model using a multi-method, multi-study approach combining experimental and empirical data. Our study contributes to the organizational literature by illuminating a socio-cognitive dynamics underpinning the evolution of informal leadership structures in groups where formal authority plays a limited role.
© 2018, INFORMS
Theories of innovation and technical change posit that inventions that combine knowledge across technology domains have greater impact than inventions drawn from a single domain. The evidence for this claim comes mostly from research on patented inventions and ignores failed patent applications. We draw on insights from research into institutional gatekeeping to theorize that, to be granted, patent applications that span technological domains must have higher quality than otherwise comparable, narrower applications. Using data on failed and successful patent applications, we estimate an integrated, two-stage model that accounts for this differential selection. We find that more domain-spanning patent applications are less likely to be approved, and that controlling for this differential selection reduces the estimated effect of knowledge recombination on innovative impact by about one-third. By conceptualizing the patent-approval process as a form of institutional gatekeeping, this paper highlights the institutional underpinnings of and constraints on the innovation process.
© 2017, INFORMS
Organizational network research has demonstrated that multiple benefits accrue to people occupying brokerage positions. However, the extant literature offers scant evidence of the process postulated to drive such benefits (information brokerage) and therefore leaves unaddressed the question of how brokers broker. We address this gap by examining the information-brokerage interactions in which actors engage. We argue that the information-brokerage strategies of brokers differ in three critical ways from those of actors embedded in denser network positions. First, brokers more often broker information via short-term interactions with colleagues outside their network of long-term relationships, a process we label “unembedded brokerage.” Second, when they engage in unembedded brokerage, brokers are more likely than are actors in dense network positions to intermediate the flow of information between the brokered parties, consistent with a tertius gaudens strategy. Conversely, and third, when they broker information via their network of long-term ties (embedded brokerage), brokers are more likely than are densely connected actors to facilitate a direct information exchange between the brokered parties, consistent with a tertius iungens strategy. Using a relational event model, we find support for our arguments in an empirical analysis of email communications among employees in a medium-sized, knowledge-intensive organization, as well as in a replication study. The theory and evidence we present advance a novel, temporal perspective on how brokers broker, which reconciles structural and process views of network brokerage. Our findings substantiate the notion of brokers as a dynamic force driving change in organizational networks, and they help to integrate within a unitary explanatory framework tertius iungens and tertius gaudens views of brokerage.
© 2016, INFORMS
The categorical imperative and structural reproduction: Dynamics of technological entry in the semiconductor industry
Extant organizational literature argues that straddling institutionalized categories begets an illegitimacy discount, leading organizations to reproduce established categorical boundaries. If gaining legitimacy requires compliance with this “categorical imperative,” why do we frequently observe categorical straddling even in uncontested and fully institutionalized categorical structures? To address this question, we propose that de novo (i.e., newly founded) and de alio (i.e., diversifying) organizations respond differently to the categorical imperative. Specifically, de novo organizations are more likely to enter and fit in high-contrast categories than in low-contrast ones, whereas the opposite is true for de alio entrants. To test these hypotheses, we follow technological entry dynamics within the semiconductor industry between 1976 and 2002. Using patent information, we examine how category contrast affects which technological categories de novo and de alio organizations enter, and the performance associated with those entry events. A comprehensive set of empirical analyses lend support to our hypotheses. Besides clarifying the link between the categorical imperative and structural reproduction, this study bears implications for entrepreneurship and strategy research on entry dynamics.
© 2015, INFORMS
Integrating insights from cognitive psychology into current network theory on the social capital of brokering and closed networks, we argue that cognitive style is a critical contingency explaining the relation between social network position and innovative performance. Based on a “complementary fit” argument, we posit that a social network rich in structural holes enhances the innovative performance of employees with an adaptive cognitive style; however, individuals with an innovative cognitive style are most innovative when embedded within a closed network of densely interconnected contacts. Using data on the individual cognitive styles and complete workplace social networks of all employees within a design and manufacturing firm, we show that our theorized contingency mechanism accounts for a large share of empirical variation in employee innovative performance over and above existing social network explanations.
With permission of the Academy of Management
Complementing received research on the role of collaboration networks in fostering interorganizational learning and innovation, the authors focus on the importance of learning from other firms’ public knowledge. To this end they introduce the concept of spillover network—the network of “source” firms whose public knowledge a “recipient” firm is able to readily absorb and use as innovation input. Using patent-based data on a panel of semiconductor firms between 1976 and 2002, the authors demonstrate that firms’ innovative performance tends to be higher when their spillover network is either munificent or rich in structural holes. However, being exposed to a spillover network that is both munificent and rich in structural holes is generally counterproductive. Consistent with the insight that the value of external knowledge inputs depends on the firm-level resources with which it can be bundled, furthermore, the authors argue that the extent to which firms benefit from their spillover network hinges on specific intraorganizational factors—their scientific intensity and degree of downstream integration.
With permission of SAGE Publishing
Where do firms' recombinant capabilities come from? Intraorganizational networks, knowledge, and firms' ability to innovate through technological recombination
A firm's innovativeness is driven by its ability to recombine existing technologies. Elaborating on this argument, we contend that there exist two distinct types of recombinant capabilities. First, firms may innovate through recombinant creation, i.e., by creating technological combinations new to the firm. Second, they may innovate through recombinant reuse; i.e., by reconfiguring combinations already known to the firm. We study what drives each type of capability by examining two factors: the degree of integration of a firm's intraorganizational network and the diversity of its knowledge base. We test our theoretical predictions using data on 126 semiconductor firms between 1984 and 2003. Our analyses indicate that factors that favor recombinant creation generally hinder recombinant reuse and vice versa; however, combining an integrated collaboration network and a diverse knowledge base may concurrently enhance both recombinant capabilities.
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Research has shown that hiring R&D scientists from competitors fosters organizational learning. We examine whether hiring scientists who have many collaborative ties with the hiring firm prior to the mobility event produces different learning outcomes than hiring scientists who have few or no such ties. We theorize that prior ties reduce explorative learning and increase exploitative learning. From our arguments we also derive other testable implications. Namely, we posit that prior ties lead the hiring firm to focus on that part of a new hire’s knowledge with which they are already familiar and that they help appropriate the new hire’s newly generated knowledge. At the same time, prior ties induce new hires to search locally within the hiring firm’s knowledge base and also to produce more incremental, lower-impact innovations. Using data on R&D scientists’ mobility in the Electronics and Electrical Goods industry, we find broad support for our hypotheses. Our results extend our theoretical understanding of learning-by-hiring processes and bear practical managerial implications.
With permission of SAGE Publishing
James Reid, the newly appointed GM of Troubled Spain, has been given a mandate by the CEO of Troubled Inc. to turn the subsidiary around within six months. Troubled Spain has experienced several years of poor performance that cannot be explained by either sluggish demand or lagging technology. The case provides information about interviews that James had with several employees, describing the role of the employee and giving insights into the issues that they see the company facing. These interviews are complemented by three charts prepared by consultants that James hired to conduct an internal audit of collaboration, communication and informal leadership in the organization. James needs to transform the organization within six months; however, this implies changing relationships that have been developed over decades and clarifying roles and boundaries that have been blurred over many years. The case challenges students to take James' position and identify the issues of Troubled Spain to develop an action plan in order to address the challenges facing the company. James needs to address: 1) issues concerning Troubled Spain's formal structure, 2) issues regarding its informal structure, including leadership issues, and 3) issues stemming from the combination of both formal and informal features. Case B provides information about what happened next and may be distributed at the end of the session.
Los Andes University Case Collection
|Also available in||Spanish|
|Related||Troubled Spain: Leading organizational changes through networks and design (B)|
James Reid, the newly appointed GM of Troubled Spain, has been given a mandate by the CEO of Troubled Inc. to turn the subsidiary around within six months. Troubled Spain has experienced several years of poor performance that cannot be explained by either sluggish demand or lagging technology. The case provides information about interviews that James had with several employees, describing the role of the employee and giving insights into the issues that they see the company facing. These interviews are complemented by three charts prepared by consultants that James hired to conduct an internal audit of collaboration, communication and informal leadership in the organization. James needs to transform the organization within six months; however, this implies changing relationships that have been developed over decades and clarifying roles and boundaries that have been blurred over many years. The case challenges students to take James' position and identify the issues of Troubled Spain to develop an action plan in order to address the challenges facing the company. James needs to address: 1) issues concerning Troubled Spain's formal structure, 2) issues regarding its informal structure, including leadership issues, and 3) issues stemming from the combination of both formal and informal features.
Los Andes University Case Collection
|Also available in||Spanish|
|Related||Troubled Spain: Leading organizational changes through networks and design|