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Making a marriage of materials: The role of gatekeepers and shepherds in the absorption of external knowledge and innovation performance

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Title: Making a marriage of materials: The role of gatekeepers and shepherds in the absorption of external knowledge and innovation performance
Authors: Ter Wal, ALJ
Criscuolo, P
Salter, A
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Through interviews and a large-scale survey of R&D scientists and engineers, this paper explores individuals’ attempts to absorb external knowledge, focusing on their efforts to identify and assimilate external knowledge and promote its utilization. Extant research does not explicitly address whether individuals should better specialize in certain absorption efforts or rather work as generalists dedicated to a range of efforts. We suggest that assimilation efforts increase the value of individuals’ efforts at external search and at promoting the utilization of external knowledge, which culminates in two main absorption roles that can help individuals achieve greater innovation performance. We argue that gatekeepers who combine external search with assimilation effort help to achieve innovation by contributing to building potential absorptive capacity, while shepherds who combine assimilation with utilization effort aid innovation by building realized absorptive capacity. We find support for these predictions and discuss the implications for research and managerial practice in open innovation.
Issue Date: Jun-2017
Date of Acceptance: 10-Mar-2017
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/45570
DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2017.03.003
ISSN: 0048-7333
Publisher: Elsevier
Start Page: 1039
End Page: 1054
Journal / Book Title: Research Policy
Volume: 46
Issue: 5
Copyright Statement: © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC-BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Sponsor/Funder: Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC)
Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
Funder's Grant Number: ES/K001159/1
EP/F036930/1
RES-598-28-0001
Keywords: Social Sciences
Management
Business & Economics
Absorptive capacity
Gatekeepers
Shepherds
Assimilation
Knowledge integration
SUCCESSFUL PRODUCT INNOVATION
SOCIAL NETWORKS
CAPACITY
INFORMATION
CHAMPIONS
BOUNDARY
SEARCH
VIEW
COMMUNICATION
INDIVIDUALS
open innovation
absorptive capacity
gatekeepers
shepherds
assimilation
knowledge integration
Science Studies
1402 Applied Economics
1503 Business and Management
1505 Marketing
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2017-03-17
Appears in Collections:Imperial College Business School