The influence of geography on knowledge flow across organizational boundaries

[German title: Der Einfluß der geographischen Lage auf Wissensflüsse über Organisationsgrenzen hinweg]

Geoffrey G. Bell, Akbar Zaheer
Geography, Networks, and Knowledge Flow
ORGANIZATION SCIENCE, Vol. 18, No. 6, November-December 2007, pp. 955-972

Abstract: Knowledge—which is closely linked to firm innovativeness—is accessed across organizational boundaries and geographic space via networks operating at different levels of analysis. However, we know tantalizingly little about the comparative influence of geography on knowledge flow across organizational boundaries over different types of ties, despite warnings that research needs to account for the geographic context of ties to fully understand causal relationships. Using a combination of primary and secondary data on 77 Canadian mutual fund companies, we find that institutional-level ties are valuable in knowledge transmission only when such ties are geographically proximate. Organization-level ties fail to act as transmitters of knowledge, regardless of geographic location. Interestingly, we find that geographically distant individual-level friendship ties are superior conduits for knowledge flow, which suggests they span “geographic holes.”

Key Words: knowledge flow; friendships; organization-level ties; interorganizational networks; geography

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Copyright © 2007 by INFORMS

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