The Impact of Varied Knowledge on Innovation and the Fate of Organizations

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Virginia Tech

In my dissertation, I examine varied types of knowledge and how they contribute to innovation generation and selection at both the firm and the industry level using the emerging industry context of small satellites. My research is divided into three papers. In Paper One, I take a supply-demand perspective and examine how suppliers of technology—with their unique knowledge of science and technology—and users of technology—with their unique knowledge of demand—contribute to innovation generation and selection over the industry lifecycle. Results show that the contributions of suppliers and users vary based on unique aspects of innovation, such as novelty, breadth, and coherence – and also over the industry life cycle. In Paper Two, I study how firms overcome science-business tension in their pursuit of novel innovation. I examine unique aspects of knowledge: scientists' business knowledge and CEOs' scientific knowledge. I show that CEOs' scientific knowledge is an important driver of firms' novel pursuits and that this impact is higher when scientists do not have business knowledge. In the third paper, I further examine how scientists with high technological and scientific knowledge—i.e., star scientists—impact firm innovation generation and selection. With a focus on explorative and exploitative innovation, I develop theory on the boundary conditions of stars' impact on firm level outcomes. I propose that individual level contingencies—i.e., stage of employment—and organizational level contingencies—explorative or exploitative innovation—both facilitate and hinder stars' impact on firms' innovative pursuits.

Innovation, Demand-Side Perspective, Industry Evolution, Scientific Knowledge, Business Knowledge, Small Satellite Industry, Topic Modeling