Bridging old worlds and building new ones: The challenge of integrating knowledge in innovation networks

Maria Elena Bou Alameda, Sabrina Moreira Ottani

Producció científica: Contribució a una conferènciaContribució


The growing importance of innovation toward competitive success and the complexity of its knowledge content have led organisations to increasingly rely on network arrangements, and in particular on innovation networks (Cowan et al., 2007; Sammarra and Biggiero, 2008). Integrating knowledge in innovation networks bring to the foreground many challenges, especially because of the diversity of network members. Although previous studies in the academia (i.e. Cowan et al., 2007; Inkpen and Tsang, 2005; Powell et al., 1996; Ringberg and Reihlen, 2008; Van Wijk et al., 2003) and also in the practical field (i.e. Dyer and Nobeoka, 2000; Park and Ungson, 2001) have shown evidence of this premise, little has been said about how such challenges could be overcome. To transcend these barriers and ensure knowledge availability and accessibility to all network participants for the effective integration of knowledge, the figure of the mediator in innovation networks seems to be of central importance. Hence, this paper aims to explore the challenges of integrating knowledge through collective practices within the complex and distributed context of innovation networks, where knowledge is dispersed over several organisations and whose integration depends, mainly, on the relational capabilities of network actors. It also seeks to visualise and identify the role of mediators in practice and to explore the tools (such as the use of mediating artefacts) that help to consolidate the integration of knowledge in order to create synergetic value that may lead into successful innovation. The relevance of this study lies in the fact that most contributions which analyse the process of knowledge integration has heavily focused on the structural aspects of networks (i.e. Ahuja, 2000; Burt, 2005; Gulatti, 1995; Owen-Smith et al., 2002; Uzzi, 1997). As so, little is still known about how the relationships among network actors affect and condition knowledge integration in innovation networks (Argote et al., 2003; Borgatti and Cross, 2003; Doak and Assimakopoulos, 2009; Easterby-Smith et al., 2008; Swan and Scarbrough, 2005). Studies that did consider the effects of network relationships on knowledge integration have focused on the use of ICT (information and communication technologies) for integrating knowledge in either virtual or ERP (enterprise resource planning) project teams (i.e. Hayes and Walsham, 2003; Hislop, 2003; Newell et al., 2004). Moreover, the role of mediators in this process of knowledge integration in innovation networks has not yet been systematically investigated in the literature (Williams, 2002) as the current discourse has been mainly positioned at the institutional and organisational level (Oke et al., 2008; Williams, 2002; Winch and Courtney, 2007). This paper begins with a brief description of innovation networks and why they are propitious contexts for the emergence of moderators. In what follows, it is presented an analysis of the role of mediators in these networks attempting to understand origins, functions and processes that they undergo to bridge old worlds and build new ones in innovation networks. What follows is an outline of the research method employed in the ongoing study of a Pan-European innovation network and a discussion of the preliminary findings obtained thus far.
Idioma originalAnglès
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - 2 de jul. 2009
Esdeveniment25th EGOS Colloquium -
Durada: 29 de juny 20094 de jul. 2009


Conferència25th EGOS Colloquium


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