A Multilevel Perspective on Collaborative Innovation - the Role of Boundary Spanners in Bringing about Knowledge Transfer

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Lehrstuhl für Innovation, Strategie und Organisation


Over the past decades, it has become almost axiomatic that knowledge lies at the core of the creation and maintenance of competitive advantage. In order to meet this trend, firms have increasingly tapped into external knowledge resources to foster innovation and to broaden their knowledge source. However, knowledge transfer (KT) between diverse stakeholders (e.g. university, industry, government and end-users) poses considerable challenges, where differing objectives, cultures and organizational processes and norms can impact the ability to acquire, assimilate, transform and exploit knowledge. With the need to embrace and interact in complex open innovation ecosystems, KT processes between different players are in a state of transition. In this context, especially the micro-foundations (individuals) are playing a crucial role. They are the ones that are acquiring, assimilating, transforming and exploiting external knowledge. Today, we know relatively little about how individuals within a company handle the new challenges of open innovation strategies and act as boundary spanners between the organization and its ecosystem.This thesis aims at understanding the role of individuals and their background (culture, education, previous employers etc.) on sourcing and transforming external knowledge.