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

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  • Schilling, Melissa A.
  • Green, Elad

Abstract

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).

Suggested Citation

  • Schilling, Melissa A. & Green, Elad, 2011. "Recombinant search and breakthrough idea generation: An analysis of high impact papers in the social sciences," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(10), pages 1321-1331.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:40:y:2011:i:10:p:1321-1331
    DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2011.06.009
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Dosi, Giovanni, 1988. "Sources, Procedures, and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 1120-1171, September.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Lee Fleming, 2001. "Recombinant Uncertainty in Technological Search," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(1), pages 117-132, January.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Antonio Malva & Stijn Kelchtermans & Bart Leten & Reinhilde Veugelers, 2015. "Basic science as a prescription for breakthrough inventions in the pharmaceutical industry," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 40(4), pages 670-695, August.
    2. Battke, Benedikt & Schmidt, Tobias S. & Stollenwerk, Stephan & Hoffmann, Volker H., 2016. "Internal or external spillovers—Which kind of knowledge is more likely to flow within or across technologies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 27-41.
    3. repec:spr:qualqt:v:52:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s11135-017-0539-y is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Clancy, Matthew, 2015. "Combinatorial Innovation and Research Strategies: Theoretical Framework and Empirical Evidence from Two Centuries of Patent Data," Staff General Research Papers Archive 38400, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    5. Stephan, Annegret & Schmidt, Tobias S. & Bening, Catharina R. & Hoffmann, Volker H., 2017. "The sectoral configuration of technological innovation systems: Patterns of knowledge development and diffusion in the lithium-ion battery technology in Japan," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 709-723.
    6. Schweisfurth, Tim G., 2017. "Comparing internal and external lead users as sources of innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 238-248.
    7. repec:eee:jbvent:v:32:y:2017:i:5:p:498-518 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:eee:tefoso:v:125:y:2017:i:c:p:154-165 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. König, Michael David, 2016. "The formation of networks with local spillovers and limited observability," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 11(3), September.
    10. repec:eee:respol:v:46:y:2017:i:10:p:1783-1800 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. repec:eee:rensus:v:82:y:2018:i:p3:p:2869-2879 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Koen Frenken & Luis R. Izquierdo & Paolo Zeppini, 2012. "Recombinant Innovation and Endogenous Transitions," Working Papers 12-01, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies, revised Jan 2012.
    13. Heuschneider, Sara & Herstatt, Cornelius, 2016. "External search for exploration of future discontinuities and trends: Implications from the literature using co-citation and content analysis," Working Papers 92, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Institute for Technology and Innovation Management.
    14. Nakamura, Hiroko & Suzuki, Shinji & Sakata, Ichiro & Kajikawa, Yuya, 2015. "Knowledge combination modeling: The measurement of knowledge similarity between different technological domains," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 187-201.
    15. repec:eee:respol:v:47:y:2018:i:1:p:252-265 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Corredoira, Rafael A. & Banerjee, Preeta M., 2015. "Measuring patent's influence on technological evolution: A study of knowledge spanning and subsequent inventive activity," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 508-521.
    17. Aharonson, Barak S. & Schilling, Melissa A., 2016. "Mapping the technological landscape: Measuring technology distance, technological footprints, and technology evolution," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 81-96.
    18. Wadhwa, Anu & Phelps, Corey & Kotha, Suresh, 2016. "Corporate venture capital portfolios and firm innovation," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 95-112.
    19. Guan, Jian Cheng & Yan, Yan, 2016. "Technological proximity and recombinative innovation in the alternative energy field," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(7), pages 1460-1473.

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