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The Effects of Communication on Technological Innovation


  • Yar M. Ebadi

    (Department of Management, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas 66506)

  • James M. Utterback

    (School of Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139)


This study examined the relationship between communication and technological innovation. It focused on the patterns of technical communication among researchers and organizations to find out if these patterns had any effect on the success of technological innovation. The objectives were to: (1) investigate the effects of communication on technological innovation at an individual level, and (2) study the effects of interorganizational communication on technological innovation. Data were gathered from the principal investigators of 117 Sea Grant research projects, which were randomly selected from a sampling frame of 495 projects. Bivariate correlation, and partial correlation, were employed in analyzing the data. The findings indicate that at the individual level, the frequency, centrality, and diversity of communication all have positive effects on the success of technological innovation. However, the frequency of communication was found to have a greater effect than either centrality or diversity of communication on technological innovation. It was also found that high formality of communication had a negative effect on technological innovation. On the aggregate level, network cohesiveness, centrality, and diversity of communications all were positively related to technological innovation. Several managerial implications may be suggested. These implications include management attempts to facilitate and promote exchange of information among researchers and among organizations, joint research projects and other interactive activities.

Suggested Citation

  • Yar M. Ebadi & James M. Utterback, 1984. "The Effects of Communication on Technological Innovation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(5), pages 572-585, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:30:y:1984:i:5:p:572-585

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ian I. Mitroff, 1972. "The Myth of Objectivity OR Why Science Needs a New Psychology of Science," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(10), pages 613-618, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Soh, Pek Hooi, 1966- & Roberts, Edward Baer. & International Center for Research on the Management of Technology., 1998. "The effects of social capital on technological performance of the firm : a a longitudinal analysis," Working papers 174-98, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    2. Kratzer, J. & Gemuenden, Hans G. & Lettl, Christopher, 2008. "Revealing dynamics and consequences of fit and misfit between formal and informal networks in multi-institutional product development collaborations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1356-1370, September.
    3. Richard, Lucie & Lehoux, Pascale & Breton, Eric & Denis, Jean-Louis & Labrie, Louise & Leonard, Claudine, 2004. "Implementing the ecological approach in tobacco control programs: results of a case study," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 409-421, November.
    4. Da Mota de Pina E Cunha, A.M. & Verhallen, T.M.M., 1998. "Organizational innovation : An overview of topics, models and research directions," Other publications TiSEM 03119425-3fea-4334-ad00-2, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    5. Scott A. Shane & Karl T. Ulrich, 2004. "50th Anniversary Article: Technological Innovation, Product Development, and Entrepreneurship in Management Science," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(2), pages 133-144, February.
    6. repec:kap:jtecht:v:42:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s10961-016-9469-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Persson, Magnus, 2006. "The impact of operational structure, lateral integrative mechanisms and control mechanisms on intra-MNE knowledge transfer," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 547-569, October.
    8. Rui Baptista, 1999. "The Diffusion of Process Innovations: A Selective Review," International Journal of the Economics of Business, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 107-129.
    9. Harada, Tsutomu, 2003. "Three steps in knowledge communication: the emergence of knowledge transformers," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1737-1751, December.
    10. Lettl, Christopher & Rost, Katja & von Wartburg, Iwan, 2009. "Why are some independent inventors 'heroes' and others 'hobbyists'? The moderating role of technological diversity and specialization," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 243-254, March.
    11. Susan Biancani & Daniel McFarland, 2013. "Social Networks Research in Higher Education," Educational Studies, Higher School of Economics, issue 4, pages 85-126.
    12. repec:eee:ecmode:v:69:y:2018:i:c:p:1-12 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Ana Ferreira & Ana Lúcia Teixeira, 2016. "Intra- And Extra-Organisational Foundations Of Innovation Processes — The Information And Communication Technology Sector Under The Crisis In Portugal," International Journal of Innovation Management (ijim), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 20(06), pages 1-44, August.
    14. Ancona, Deborah G. (Deborah Gladstein). & Caldwell, David F., 1991. "Demography and design : predictors of new product team performance," Working papers 3236-91., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    15. Baptista, Rui, 2000. "Do innovations diffuse faster within geographical clusters?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 515-535, April.
    16. Ancona, Deborah G. (Deborah Gladstein). & Caldwell, David E., 1989. "Demography and design : predictors of new product team performance," Working papers 3078-89., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.


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