Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1306788
 
 

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Intra-Firm Learning from Innovative Activity: The Role of Managers, Work Context and Situated Organizational Attention


Alva Taylor


Dartmouth College - Tuck School of Business

Lynn Foster-Johnson


Dartmouth College - Tuck School of Business

Richard A. Harriman


affiliation not provided to SSRN

November 24, 2008

Tuck School of Business Working Paper No. 2008-55

Abstract:     
In this paper we examine the organizational learning that occurs as a result of the innovative activity of new product development. We argue that learning from the new knowledge generated by the innovative activity is influenced by the cognitive context and work conditions in the organization, and can be aided or impeded by factors that affect the attention of individuals in the organization. We use differences in the organizational context - whether the work environment is a knowledge-rich or a knowledge-sparse environment - to show that factors such as manager involvement and perceived competition play an important part in determining whether attention to new knowledge results in greater or lesser learning. We test our hypotheses using empirical data from multiple new product development groups in a multi-division global consumer goods company. Our findings show that the cognitive influences affect the level of learning, and this learning differs based on the contextual situation created by the level of new knowledge. We also show that management oversight at the middle-manager level separates dynamic learning projects from those that are relatively inert. It is proactive middle managers who are able to help an organization acquire new knowledge and renew its innovative resources. These findings have implications for theories of innovation, competition, organizational learning, and managerial decision making.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 37

Keywords: learning, innovation, capabilities, middle management, new product development

JEL Classification: I66, M1, O31, O32, M10, D83

working papers series


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Date posted: November 25, 2008 ; Last revised: December 3, 2008

Suggested Citation

Taylor, Alva and Foster-Johnson, Lynn and Harriman, Richard A., Intra-Firm Learning from Innovative Activity: The Role of Managers, Work Context and Situated Organizational Attention (November 24, 2008). Tuck School of Business Working Paper No. 2008-55. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1306788 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1306788

Contact Information

Alva Taylor (Contact Author)
Dartmouth College - Tuck School of Business ( email )
Hanover, NH 03755
United States
646-3937 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://oracle-www.dartmouth.edu/dart/groucho/tuck_faculty_and_research.faculty_profile?p_id=QQXQ6A
Lynn Foster-Johnson
Dartmouth College - Tuck School of Business ( email )
Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-646-1945 (Phone)
Richard A. Harriman
affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )
Feedback to SSRN


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