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Individual connectedness in innovation networks: On the role of individual motivation


  • Aalbers, Rick
  • Dolfsma, Wilfred
  • Koppius, Otto


Explanations of knowledge sharing in organizations emphasize either personality variables such as motivation or network-related structural variables such as centrality. Little empirical research examines how these two types of variables are in fact related: how do extrinsic and intrinsic motivation explain the position that an employee entertains in a knowledge sharing network within an organization? Much is to be gained from a better understanding of how, empirically, psychological variables and an organization's network interrelate (Burt et al., 1998; Kalish and Robins, 2006; Moch, 1980; Teigland and Wasko, 2009). Still, this line of enquiry is not pursued much (Foss et al., 2009). This paper integrates the structural characteristics known to be implicated in knowledge transfer typically focused on in the social network literature on the one hand, with the motivational perspective commonly identified in the organization literature. This study examines how motivation – extrinsic (expected organizational rewards, reciprocal benefits) and intrinsic (knowledge self-efficacy, enjoyment in helping others) – might explain how employees may be better connected in the full knowledge transfer network or might be engaged more in inter-unit knowledge transfer. Connectedness (closeness centrality) and inter-unit ties are well-known to contribute to knowledge transfer. Analyzing data from a survey at two large European organizations, this study, counterintuitively, shows that neither intrinsic nor extrinsic motivation explain an individual's favorable position in a knowledge transfer network.

Suggested Citation

  • Aalbers, Rick & Dolfsma, Wilfred & Koppius, Otto, 2013. "Individual connectedness in innovation networks: On the role of individual motivation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 624-634.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:42:y:2013:i:3:p:624-634
    DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2012.10.007

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wilfred Dolfsma & Rene Eijk & Albert Jolink, 2009. "On a Source of Social Capital: Gift Exchange," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 89(3), pages 315-329, October.
    2. Stephen P. Borgatti & Rob Cross, 2003. "A Relational View of Information Seeking and Learning in Social Networks," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(4), pages 432-445, April.
    3. Tom J. M. Mom & Frans A. J. Van Den Bosch & Henk W. Volberda, 2007. "Investigating Managers' Exploration and Exploitation Activities: The Influence of Top-Down, Bottom-Up, and Horizontal Knowledge Inflows," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(6), pages 910-931, September.
    4. Jackson, Matthew O. & Wolinsky, Asher, 1996. "A Strategic Model of Social and Economic Networks," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 44-74, October.
    5. Dekker, D.J. & Franses, Ph.H.B.F. & Krackhardt, D., 2001. "An Equilibrium-Correction Model for Dynamic Network Data," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2001-39-MKT, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
    6. Kanter, Rosabeth, 1985. "Supporting innovation and venture development in established companies," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 47-60.
    7. Sumantra Ghoshal & Christopher A Bartlett, 1988. "Creation, Adoption and Diffusion of Innovations by Subsidiaries of Multinational Corporations," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 19(3), pages 365-388, September.
    8. Argote, Linda & Ingram, Paul, 2000. "Knowledge Transfer: A Basis for Competitive Advantage in Firms," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 150-169, May.
    9. Buechel, Berno & Buskens, Vincent, 2011. "The dynamics of closeness and betweenness," Center for Mathematical Economics Working Papers 398, Center for Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University.
    10. Liliana Pérez-Nordtvedt & Ben L. Kedia & Deepak K. Datta & Abdul A. Rasheed, 2008. "Effectiveness and Efficiency of Cross-Border Knowledge Transfer: An Empirical Examination," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(4), pages 714-744, June.
    11. Teigland, Robin & Wasko, Molly, 2009. "Knowledge transfer in MNCs: Examining how intrinsic motivations and knowledge sourcing impact individual centrality and performance," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 15-31, March.
    12. Venkatesh Bala & Sanjeev Goyal, 2000. "A Noncooperative Model of Network Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1181-1230, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. de Avila Santos, João Heitor & de Barcellos, Marcia Dutra & Sauvée, Loïc, 2016. "Innovation and Interactions: A Bibliometrics Study on intra‐firm Coordination," 2016 International European Forum, February 15-19, 2016, Innsbruck-Igls, Austria 244543, International European Forum on System Dynamics and Innovation in Food Networks.
    2. repec:ebl:ecbull:eb-16-00421 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:ers:journl:v:xx:y:2017:i:3b:p:16-26 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:ers:journl:v:xx:y:2017:i:3a:p:18-34 is not listed on IDEAS


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