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Bridging Distances: Organizing Boundary-spanning Technology Development Projects


  • Maria Bengtsson
  • Anders Soderholm


Technology development is often a boundary-spanning activity where insights and discoveries from different organizations or organizational units are merged into new products or new technical solutions. In some cases, projects of this kind are organized within large multinational firms. In other cases, technology development projects are organized within networks through co-operation between independent companies possessing unique resources that can be utilized as parts of the project. In this paper, we discuss and analyse how distances are bridged in technology development projects. We focus on: (1) the relationship between implicit and explicit knowledge; and (2) different distances inherent in the development effort. Two different bridging processes are proposed as means to overcome distances: a separating-integrating process; and a linking-formalizing process. It is argued that a development project typically runs through either one of these two processes. Le developpement de la technologie est souvent une activite qui s'etend sur les limites et dont les apercus et les decouvertes, qui proviennent des organisations ou des unites d'organisation differentes, sont incorpores en de nouveaux produits ou de nouvelles solutions techniques. Dans certains cas, de tels projets sont organises au sein des grandes societes multinationales. Dans d'autres cas, des projets a caractere technologique sont organises sous forme de reseaux par moyen de la cooperation entre des societes independantes dotees des ressources particulieres susceptibles d'etre utilisees comme partie integrante du projet. Cet article cherche a discuter et a analyser comment se reduisent les distances dans les projets a caractere technologique. L'article focalise en premier sur le rapport entre les connaissances implicite et explicite, et en deuxieme les differentes distances propres a l'initiative de developpement. On propose deux processus differents visant la reduction des distances: un processus de separation-integration et un processus de relation-formalisation. On soutient qu'un projet de developpement parcourt l'un de ces deux processus. Technologische Entwicklungen erweisen sich oft als grenzuberschreitende Unternehmungen, bei denen Einsichten und Entdeckungen verschiedener Organisationen oder organisatorischer Einheiten zu Produkten oder neuen technischen Losungen verschmolzen werden. Manchmal werden Projekte dieser Art innerhalb grosser, multinationaler Unternehmen bewerkstelligt, doch in anderen werden technologische Entwicklungsprojekte durch Zusammenarbeit unabhangiger Gesellschaften mit einmaligen Ressourcen erreicht, welche als Teilelemente des Projekts eingesetzt werde konnen. In diesem Aufsatz wird analysiert wie in technologischen Entwicklungsprojekten Entfernungen uberbruckt werden. Dabei richtet sich die Aufmerksamkeit auf (1) das Verhaltnis zwischen impliziten und expliziten Wissen, und (2) unterschiedliche Arten von Entfernungen im Entwicklungsprozess. Es werden zwei unterschiedliche Uberbruckungsprozesse als Mittel zur Uberwindung von Entfernungen vorgeschlagen: eine separierend-integrierender Prozess und ein verbindend-formalisierender Vorgang. Es wird argumentiert, dass ein Entwicklungsprozess typischerweise einen der beiden Prozesse durchlauft.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Bengtsson & Anders Soderholm, 2002. "Bridging Distances: Organizing Boundary-spanning Technology Development Projects," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(3), pages 263-274.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:regstd:v:36:y:2002:i:3:p:263-274
    DOI: 10.1080/00343400220122061

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Ibert, Oliver, 2004. "Projects and firms as discordant complements: organisational learning in the Munich software ecology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1529-1546, December.
    2. Gernot Grabher, 2002. "Cool Projects, Boring Institutions: Temporary Collaboration in Social Context," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(3), pages 205-214.


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