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Social networks, Learning, and Flexibility: Sourcing Scientific Knowledge in New Biotechnology Firms

Author

Listed:
  • Julia Porter Liebeskind

    (School of Business Administration, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90089-1421)

  • Amalya Lumerman Oliver

    (Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel 91905)

  • Lynne Zucker

    (Institute for Social Science Research, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90024)

  • Marilynn Brewer

    (Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210)

Abstract

We examine how two highly successful new biotechnology firms (NBFs) source their most critical input---scientific knowledge. We find that scientists at the two NBFs enter into large numbers of collaborative research efforts with scientists at other organizations, especially universities. Formal market contracts are rarely used to govern these exchanges of scientific knowledge. Our findings suggest that the use of boundary-spanning social networks by the two NBFs increases both their learning and their flexibility in ways that would not be possible within a self-contained hierarchical organization.

Suggested Citation

  • Julia Porter Liebeskind & Amalya Lumerman Oliver & Lynne Zucker & Marilynn Brewer, 1996. "Social networks, Learning, and Flexibility: Sourcing Scientific Knowledge in New Biotechnology Firms," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 7(4), pages 428-443, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ororsc:v:7:y:1996:i:4:p:428-443
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/orsc.7.4.428
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