OSA seminar by Pernille Smith and Susan Hilbolling

Benefitting from the knowledge side effects of inter-organizational innovation: a process perspective

2021.05.12 | Vibeke Vrang

Date Tue 01 Jun
Time 10:00 11:00
Location via Zoom

Zoom link: https://aarhusuniversity.zoom.us/j/65771389188

On 1 June at 10:00 via Zoom, Pernille Smith & Susan Hilbolling will give a seminar entitled

Benefitting from the knowledge side effects of inter-organizational innovation: a process perspective 

What do companies gain from inter-organizational innovation? To answer this, the literature has focused on the planned objectives and final outcomes (e.g. Kuo et al., 2018; Gesing et al., 2015; Leiponen & Helfat, 2010), and from this perspective many inter-organizational innovation projects have been labelled as failures because they were unable to reach the planned objectives (Gulati et al., 2012, Chesbrough et al., 2006). This view is based on an assumption that knowledge is built by actors that deliberately engage in purposeful knowledge creating activities, where new knowledge creation is based on plans that are then orchestrated to realize the desired outcome. In this paper we argue that a shift in focus is needed if we want to fully understand knowledge creation and how companies learn in inter-organizational innovation efforts. Applying a process lens (Tsoukas and Chia, 2002), we argue that underneath the deliberate knowledge building mode there is a more simple ‘dwelling’ mode in which knowledge creation ‘intent’ is viewed as immanent in adaptive action where knowledge emerges in a non-deliberate way in everyday practices (Chia and Holt, 2006).

Through a 2-year study of an inter-organizational R&D project in the pharmaceutical industry, we have examined emergent ‘knowledge side effects’ of inter-organizational collaborations, more specifically the unplanned or apparently unrelated knowledge discoveries that emerged during the project.

We seek to identify what types of knowledge side effects emerge and how, and we investigate whether these eventually provide input to internal problem solving related to the planned objectives of the project. In other words, we want to understand the extent and the process through which apparently unrelated knowledge practices contribute to inter-organizational learning. Framing knowledge creation as ’dwelling’ enables us to understand whether seemingly unintentional knowledge creating practices may be consistent and eventually relevant without (or in spite of) a relation to a deliberate knowledge creation plan. Our study contributes to prior research on the role of individuals in knowledge absorption from inter-organizational innovation activities (e.g., Sjödin et al., 2018; Ter Wal et al., 2017; Whelan et al., 2011).