Bridging firm-internal boundaries for innovation

Knowledge flowing across firm-internal (unit) boundaries is an essential contribution to an organization’s innovative performance. Knowledge, unfortunately, does not cross firm-internal boundaries as a matter of course. The different contacts an individual maintains in a firm’s instrumental-formal and expressive-informal networks defines their personal communication profile – a profile that may or may not match their formal position within the firm. Through the contacts individuals maintain, they can entertain five different communication roles as they transfer knowledge within their firm; either internal to their own unit or brokering to other units. From among the five different roles, two are (unit) internally oriented and three are oriented toward others outside the unit, crossing firm-internal boundaries.  Outcomes of a recent project with Wilfred Dolfsma of the University of Groningen indicate that individuals who in their formal (but not in their informal) contacts are predominantly externally oriented will particularly contribute to innovative activity within the firm. Read more here.