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

44 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2000 Last revised: 25 Nov 2014

See all articles by Julia Porter Liebeskind

Julia Porter Liebeskind

University of Southern California - Management and Organization Department

Amalya Lumerman Oliver

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Lynne G. Zucker

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Marilynn B. Brewer

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Psychology

Date Written: October 1995

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

Porter Liebeskind, Julia and Oliver, Amalya Lumerman and Zucker, Lynne G. and Brewer, Marilynn B., Social Networks, Learning, and Flexibility: Sourcing Scientific Knowledge in New Biotechnology Firms (October 1995). NBER Working Paper No. w5320. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=225384

Julia Porter Liebeskind (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Management and Organization Department ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
(213) 740-0749 (Phone)
(213) 749-0541 (Fax)

Amalya Lumerman Oliver

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Sociology and Anthropology ( email )

Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, 91905
Israel

Lynne G. Zucker

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361 Departments of Sociology and Policy Studies 2201 Hershey mc 155107
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1361
United States
310-825-3227 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Marilynn B. Brewer

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Psychology

1885 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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