Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2008247
 
 

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Is Unit Spanning by Executives Associated with Strategic Change?


Charles Williams


Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology

Samina Karim


Boston University

February 2013

Boston U. School of Management Research Paper No. 2012-7

Abstract:     
Firms frequently create executive links between units by transferring or sharing people. Organization theory has emphasized that “boundary-spanning” by people can be a source of innovation and change as these executives combine knowledge from different domains. Within the organization, however, spanning connections also strengthen social ties and cognitive filters that may reduce the possibility of strategic change. Our analysis of executive links in medical firms finds that these links, especially when they occur between the corporate unit and business units, are mostly associated with reduced strategic change through market entry and exit. This finding suggests that the cognitive and social commitments from executive links may undermine the knowledge diffusion expected to arise from connecting separate units of the firm.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 38

Keywords: executive links, corporate office, knowledge recombination, boundary spanning, dynamic capabilities, organizational structure, strategic change, inertia

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Date posted: February 20, 2012 ; Last revised: November 7, 2014

Suggested Citation

Williams, Charles and Karim, Samina, Is Unit Spanning by Executives Associated with Strategic Change? (February 2013). Boston U. School of Management Research Paper No. 2012-7. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2008247 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2008247

Contact Information

Charles Williams
Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology ( email )
Via Roentgen 1
Milan, MI 20136
Italy
Samina Karim (Contact Author)
Boston University ( email )
595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-353-4289 (Phone)
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