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Title: Behavioral foundations for open innovation: Knowledge gifts and social networks
Authors: Dolfsma, Wilfred
Van der Eijk, Rene
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: © Taylor & Francis
Citation: DOLFSMA, W. and VAN DER EIJK, R., 2017. Behavioral foundations for open innovation: Knowledge gifts and social networks. Innovation: Organization & Management, 19 (2), pp. 287-306.
Abstract: The literature on “open innovation” so far focuses almost exclusively on strategic issues. In this largely conceptual paper we propose behavioral foundations for knowledge exchange and knowledge sharing to address this gap in the literature. Innovation and knowledge development that result from knowledge transfer, is an uncertain and cumulative process that typically involves a number of parties. Knowledge transfer between people and firms has been fruitfully studied from a structural or network perspective. The social network literature however, faces an “action problem”. Focusing on structural elements such as an agent’s position in a network and the types of relations entertained cannot explain why actors actually do share knowledge. The exchange of knowledge is elusive and is a discretionary act for the people involved, certainly in the case of open innovation (OI). It is argued here that social network analysis is to be complemented by the concept of gift exchange, drawing on social exchange literature. Gift exchange – following Mauss’ dictum to “give, receive and reciprocate”– establishes obligations between people especially under circumstances of ambiguity, which explain why and how knowledge exchange relations are established, persist, and may also end. Relationships in a social network and the social capital that inheres in these cannot be drawn on at will to exchange knowledge. These obligations established by gift exchange between individuals who share a connection explain why agents exchange knowledge with each other even in the absence of markets or hierarchy.
Description: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Innovation: Organization & Management on 01 Feb 2017, available online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14479338.2016.1276406.
Version: Accepted for publication
DOI: 10.1080/14479338.2016.1276406
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/23639
Publisher Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14479338.2016.1276406
ISSN: 1447-9338
Appears in Collections:Published Articles (Loughborough University London)

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