Microfoundations of Knowledge Recombination: Peripheral Knowledge and Breakthrough Innovation in Teams

Cognition and Strategy

ISBN: 978-1-78441-946-2, eISBN: 978-1-78441-945-5

ISSN: 0742-3322

Publication date: 19 August 2015


Strategy scholars have long argued that breakthrough innovation is generated by recombining knowledge from distant domains. Even if firms have the ability to access and absorb knowledge from distant domains, however, they may fail to pay attention to such knowledge because it is seemingly irrelevant to their tasks. We draw attention to this problem of knowledge relevance and develop a theoretical model to illuminate how ideas from seemingly irrelevant (i.e., peripheral) domains can generate breakthrough innovation through the cognitive process of analogical reasoning, as well as the conditions under which this is more likely to occur. We situate our theoretical model in the context of teams in order to develop insight into the microfoundations of knowledge recombination within firms. Our model reveals paradoxical requirements for teams that help to explain why breakthrough innovation is so difficult.



Haas, M.R. and Ham, W. (2015), "Microfoundations of Knowledge Recombination: Peripheral Knowledge and Breakthrough Innovation in Teams", Cognition and Strategy (Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 32), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 47-87. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0742-332220150000032002



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