Recombinant Search and Breakthrough Idea Generation: An Analysis of High Impact Papers in the Social Sciences

45 Pages Posted: 11 May 2013

See all articles by Melissa A. Schilling

Melissa A. Schilling

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior

Elad Green

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior

Date Written: June 9, 2011

Abstract

Some ideas have dramatically more impact than others – they may overturn existing paradigms or launch new areas of scientific inquiry. Where do such high impact ideas come from? Are some search processes significantly more likely to lead to breakthrough idea generation than others? In this research, we compare “high impact” papers from the social sciences with random-but-matched articles published in the same journals in the same years. We find that search scope, search depth, and atypical connections between different research domains significantly increase a paper’s impact, even when controlling for the experience and prior publishing success of the author(s).

Keywords: innovation, knowledge networks, breakthrough, recombinant search, small-world networks, insight

Suggested Citation

Schilling, Melissa A. and Green, Elad, Recombinant Search and Breakthrough Idea Generation: An Analysis of High Impact Papers in the Social Sciences (June 9, 2011). Research Policy, Vol. 40, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2263036

Melissa A. Schilling (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior ( email )

40 West Fourth Street
New York, NY 10012
United States
212-998-0249 (Phone)
212-995-4235 (Fax)

Elad Green

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior ( email )

40 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
United States

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