Innovation Articles

By Linus Dahlander, Siobhan O'Mahony

A Study Shows How to Find New Ideas Inside and Outside the Company


We discovered that experts with a broad external network were more innovative only when they devoted enough time and attention to those sources. For instance, people who interacted with eight different types of partners were only more innovative if they allocated half of their time outside the organization. Those who spent more time cultivating external relationships reported higher innovation outcomes, in terms of either patent quantity or quality. When people created a broad external network but did not spend adequate time learning how to use the information gained, the costs of being more distant from the organization and engaging in external networking outweighed the benefits of identifying novel information.