Elgar Law and Entrepreneurship series
Edited by Shubha Ghosh and Robin Paul Malloy
Chapter 10: The Evolution of Collaborative Invention at a Distance: Evidence from the Patent Record
Richard S. Gruner Many forces now drive technological advancement through group innovation. Increasingly, group innovation projects involve efforts to combine globally dispersed expertise and to advance invention processes among working groups separated by great distances. Administrative resources embedded in worldwide corporate organizations and improved communication infrastructures such as the internet draw together and facilitate new efforts to innovate through globally dispersed workgroups. There are several reasons why increases in geographically dispersed work groups may produce more or better innovations. Research groups assembled worldwide may produce quicker or more effective innovation by simply involving more designers with parallel skills in innovative tasks. These groups may also be advantageous because they apply complementary expertise or skills held by parties in different countries and regions to shared design tasks. Where parties in different countries or regions have significantly different expertise (in number or in kind), joint efforts of parties from multiple countries or regions may be particularly important in bringing the right mix of expertise to bear in certain lines of innovation development. The growing importance of innovation projects involving physically separated groups of employees or researchers has created an associated need for new means to coordinate and promote efforts of designers interacting at a distance. Recent research has emphasized the surroundings and practices at both individual and organizational levels that can make collaborative interactions effective, particularly in advancing engineering research and development and other new design efforts.1 The challenges facing parties who seek to form and administer effective innovative workgroups are considerable....
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