NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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

Julia Porter Liebeskind, Amalya Lumerman Oliver, Lynne G. Zucker, Marilynn B. Brewer

NBER Working Paper No. 5320
Issued in October 1995
NBER Program(s):   PR

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.

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Published: Starbuck, William H. and Suzanne G. Tilleman. (eds.) Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management. Volume 3. Learning by Populations of Organizations, Elgar Reference Collection. International Library of Critical Writings on Business and Management, vol. 9. Cheltenham, U.K. and Northampton, Mass.: Elgar, 2008.

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