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Recombinant search and breakthrough idea generation: An analysis of high impact papers in the social sciences

  • Schilling, Melissa A.
  • Green, Elad
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    Some ideas have dramatically more impact than others – they may overturn existing paradigms or launch new areas of scientific inquiry. Where do such high impact ideas come from? Are some search processes significantly more likely to lead to breakthrough idea generation than others? In this research, we compare “high impact” papers from the social sciences with random-but-matched articles published in the same journals in the same years. We find that search scope, search depth, and atypical connections between different research domains significantly increase a paper's impact, even when controlling for the experience and prior publishing success of the author(s).

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048733311001223
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

    Volume (Year): 40 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 10 ()
    Pages: 1321-1331

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:40:y:2011:i:10:p:1321-1331
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/respol

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    1. Dosi, Giovanni, 1988. "Sources, Procedures, and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 1120-71, September.
    2. Kauffman, Stuart & Lobo, Jose & Macready, William G., 2000. "Optimal search on a technology landscape," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 141-166, October.
    3. Pino G. Audia & Jack A. Goncalo, 2007. "Past Success and Creativity over Time: A Study of Inventors in the Hard Disk Drive Industry," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 53(1), pages 1-15, January.
    4. Simon, Herbert A, 1978. "Rationality as Process and as Product of Thought," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 1-16, May.
    5. Lee Fleming, 2001. "Recombinant Uncertainty in Technological Search," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(1), pages 117-132, January.
    6. Levinthal, Daniel & March, James G., 1981. "A model of adaptive organizational search," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 307-333, December.
    7. Raj Echambadi & James D. Hess, 2007. "Mean-Centering Does Not Alleviate Collinearity Problems in Moderated Multiple Regression Models," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(3), pages 438-445, 05-06.
    8. Melissa A. Schilling & Patricia Vidal & Robert E. Ployhart & Alexandre Marangoni, 2003. "Learning by Doing Something Else: Variation, Relatedness, and the Learning Curve," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(1), pages 39-56, January.
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