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Knowledge mediation and overlapping in interfirm networks

Francesca Mariotti (Assistant Professor at the Department of Business Administration, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and an Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 25 October 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The literature on interfirm networks devotes scant attention to the ways collaborating firms combine and integrate the knowledge they share and to the subsequent learning outcomes. This study aims to investigate how motorsport companies use network ties to share and recombine knowledge and the learning that occurs both at the organizational and dyadic network levels.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper adopts a qualitative and inductive approach with the aim of developing theory from an in‐depth examination of the dyadic ties between motorsport companies and the way they share and recombine knowledge.

Findings

The research shows that motorsport companies having substantial competences at managing knowledge flows do so by getting advantage of bridging ties. While bridging ties allow motorsport companies to reach distant and diverse sources of knowledge, their strengthening and the formation of relational capital facilitate the mediation and overlapping of that knowledge.

Research limitations/implications

The analysis rests on a qualitative account in a single industry and does not take into account different types of inter‐firm networks (e.g. alliances; constellations; consortia etc.) and governance structures. Cross‐industry analyses may provide a more fine‐grained picture of the practices used to recombine knowledge and the ideal composition of inter‐firm ties.

Practical implications

This study provides some interesting implications for scholars and managers concerned with the management of innovation activities at the interfirm level. From a managerial point of view, the recognition of the different roles played by network spanning connections is particularly salient and raises issues concerning the effective design and management of interfirm ties.

Originality/value

Although much of the literature emphasizes the role of bridging ties in connecting to diverse pools of knowledge, this paper goes one step further and investigates in more depth how firms gather and combine distant and heterogeneous sources of knowledge through the use of strengthened bridging ties and a micro‐context conducive to high quality relationships.

Keywords

Citation

Mariotti, F. (2011), "Knowledge mediation and overlapping in interfirm networks", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 15 No. 6, pp. 875-889. https://doi.org/10.1108/13673271111179262

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited