Searching for Knowledge in Response to Problems from Proximate and Remote Sources: Evidence from the Renewable Electricity Industry

49 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2017 Last revised: 19 Dec 2019

See all articles by Nilanjana Dutt

Nilanjana Dutt

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology

Will Mitchell

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business; University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

Date Written: December 10, 2019

Abstract

Technological search studies argue that problems trigger search, but we lack understanding of which features of a problem associate with a critical search activity: search breadth. This paper considers how different problem sources—proximate versus remote problem sources—relate to heterogeneity in search breadth. Because of differences in how familiar firms are with each problem and in expectations of their ability to influence the problem source, problems triggered by remote sources are associated with greater technological search breadth. Firms’ technological capabilities, meanwhile, temper these findings, suggesting that more capable firms search more broadly when facing problems raised by proximate problem sources. We test these ideas using data describing the U.S. renewable electricity sector from 2000 to 2010, generating theoretical, empirical, and public policy implications.

Keywords: Problem Solving, Technological Search, Renewable Electricity, Knowledge, Innovation

Suggested Citation

Dutt, Nilanjana and Mitchell, Will, Searching for Knowledge in Response to Problems from Proximate and Remote Sources: Evidence from the Renewable Electricity Industry (December 10, 2019). Rotman School of Management Working Paper No. 3041234, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3041234 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3041234

Nilanjana Dutt (Contact Author)

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

Will Mitchell

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada

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