Research summary: While firms tend to build on their own knowledge, we distinguish between depth and breadth of local search to investigate the drivers of these behaviors. Given that inventors in a firm carry out the knowledge creation activities, we strive to identify inventors responsible for these behaviors by employing the notion of an intra-firm inventor network. A longitudinal examination of 14,575 inventors from four large semiconductor firms using patent data supports our hypotheses that the reach of inventors in the intra-firm network and their span of structural holes have independent and interactive effects on these two types of local search behaviors. These findings have implications for research on exploitation and exploration, organizational knowledge, knowledge networks, and micro-foundations. Managerial summary: Large amounts of knowledge may reside within firm boundaries, and managers are interested in understanding who may leverage this knowledge to generate novel ideas. We focus on collaborations among knowledge workers to address this question. Using the collaborations among all knowledge workers in a firm, we show that those who have higher reach to all others and those who form bridges to connect unconnected groups of workers tend to leverage not only more organizational knowledge, but also knowledge that is more dispersed in the organization. Managers could use these insights to shape the use of organizational knowledge by firm inventors, and also to make decisions about granting or withholding access to internal knowledge platforms for knowledge workers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Business and International Management
- Strategy and Management