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Edited by David Rooney, Greg Hearn and Tim Kastelle
Chapter 15: The Past, Present and Future of Social Network Analysis in the Study of Innovation
15 The past, present and future of social network analysis in the study of innovation John Steen and Sam Macaulay Many years ago Joseph Schumpeter, the founder of the economics of innovation, described innovation as the process of searching for and recombining knowledge. Even this most fundamental model of innovation implies a process of finding the right connections through search and then consolidating those connections. Thinking about this process of connection and recombination is a useful way of understanding growth in the knowledge economy. Using this approach to study the production of knowledge has gained prominence in recent times (for example, Fleming and Marx, 2006; Mina et al., 2007; Powell et al., 2005). Researchers are now shifting their attention to examining how patterns of knowledge dissemination and implementation influence growth (Powell and Snellman, 2004). This new focus promises important insights into how connections outside the production process, such as the way new technologies complement organizational practices, influence knowledge growth (Brynjolfsson and Hitt, 2000). There are a wide range of methods available for studying these processes. Social network analysis is both one of the less commonly understood and one of the most promising. The explanatory power of this approach has been well documented in studies of innovation found in management, sociology and economics. It enables both the structure and content of the knowledge production system to be visualized and analysed in a systematic manner. For these reasons social network analysis is also an appealing method of studying the connections involved in...
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