While it is well understood that being centrally connected within the intra-organizational network enhances individuals’ ability to generate impactful innovations, the firm-level implications of this argument have remained unexplored. Complementing the predominant individual-level focus of previous research, we examine how the distribution of network centrality among a firm’s inventors affects the innovative performance of the firm as a whole. We test our theoretical arguments using a multi-level panel dataset describing the evolving intra-organizational networks of 140 semiconductor firms, as well as the individual network position of each of their inventors, between 1986 and 2003. Our analyses confirm that central inventors in the intra-organizational network tend to be more innovative than less connected actors. Highlighting a tension between individual-level and firm-level outcomes, however, we show that such individual-level benefits rarely spill over to the firm as whole and in fact, they generally detract from it. In addition to changing our understanding of how intraorganizational networks impact innovative performance, the study bears important implications for both network theory and management practice.
OPERTI, E. and CARNABUCI, G. (2012). Good for One but Bad for Most? How Intra-Organizational Networks Impact Innovative Performance at the Inventor and Firm Level. In: 28th EGOS Colloquium 2012.