Talk, talk, talk: Exploring idea conversations and the micro-level foundations of knowledge sharing for innovation

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Abstract

In this study we explore the drivers and consequences of micro-level instances of knowledge sharing for innovation. We do so by focusing on the temporally bounded conversations that colleagues have about new ideas and we study specifically how the strength of ties between these colleagues influences the duration and breadth of knowledge sharing in the idea-related conversations they have over time. A 14-month on-site field study in a multinational company, in which we mapped 496 dyadic relationships regarding 17 new product ideas, shows that knowledge sharing can be explained by the ties between people being either strong or weak, rather than intermediate. We also discover that characteristics of the idea itself shape how tie strength influences the duration and breadth of knowledge sharing in idea conversations. Finally, we provide initial evidence to show how important conversations are for the success of an idea. Our study sheds light on micro-level instances of knowledge sharing for innovation and provides important insights into how managers can foster an environment in which weak and strong ties can be utilised optimally for sharing knowledge about ideas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-313
JournalInnovation: Organization & Management
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Bob Kijkuit for collecting much of the data that is used in this study, and the managers and employees of the research site for their endless support for this project. We benefitted greatly from discussions at EGOS, AOM, the UK~IRC Early Career Researcher Workshop, and the Tilburg Innovation Conference. We are also most grateful for feedback that we received at workshops at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, VU Amsterdam, and the University of Freiburg. Finally, we would like to thank our editor Nelson Phillips and the anonymous reviewers for their excellent comments and suggestions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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