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The strength of strong ties in the creation of innovation

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  • Rost, Katja

Abstract

There is an ongoing debate in innovation research as to which type of social capital is more conducive to innovation: structural holes as proposed by Burt or network closure as proposed by Coleman. Although Coleman focused on the quality of relationships, Burt argued that the structural configuration of relationships was more important. I argue that, instead of being alternative substitutes, Burt's social capital theory complements Coleman's theory. More precisely, I demonstrate that, in the presence of strong ties, weak network architectures (structural holes or a peripheral network position) leverage the strength of strong ties in the creation of innovation. This implies that weak network architectures have no value without strong ties, whereas strong ties have some value without weak network architectures but are leveraged by this type of structure. The findings indicate that innovation research tends to overestimate the impact of weak network architectures in the creation of innovation. By pointing to the necessity of strong ties, the results may be of particular interest for research on open innovation. They suggest that open innovation will not work if closed innovation principles are pushed back.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

Volume (Year): 40 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (May)
Pages: 588-604

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Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:40:y:2011:i:4:p:588-604

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/respol

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Keywords: James S. Coleman Ronald S. Burt Strong ties Structural holes Patents;

References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Bullinger, Angelika C. & Rass, Matthias & Adamczyk, Sabrina & Moeslein, Kathrin M. & Sohn, Stefan, 2012. "Open innovation in health care: Analysis of an open health platform," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 165-175.
  2. d'Agostino, Giorgio & Scarlato, Margherita, 2012. "Inclusive Institutions, Innovation and Economic Growth: Estimates for European Countries," MPRA Paper 43098, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Lutter, Mark, 2014. "Creative success and network embeddedness: Explaining critical recognition of film directors in Hollywood, 1900-2010," MPIfG Discussion Paper 14/11, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  4. Fredin, Sabrina, 2013. "New Perspectives on Innovative Entrepreneurship and Path Dependence – A Regional Approach," CITR Working Paper Series, Center for Innovation and Technology Research, Blekinge Institute of Technology 2013/06, Center for Innovation and Technology Research, Blekinge Institute of Technology.
  5. Ebers, Mark & Maurer, Indre, 2014. "Connections count: How relational embeddedness and relational empowerment foster absorptive capacity," Research Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 318-332.
  6. Huber, Franz, 2013. "Knowledge-sourcing of R&D workers in different job positions: Contextualising external personal knowledge networks," Research Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 167-179.
  7. Casanueva, Cristóbal & Castro, Ignacio & Galán, José L., 2013. "Informational networks and innovation in mature industrial clusters," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(5), pages 603-613.
  8. Charlotte Schlump & Thomas Brenner, 2013. "Firm's cooperation activities: The relevance of public research, proximity and personal ties - A study of technology-oriented firms in East Germany," Working Papers on Innovation and Space 2013-06, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.

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