Organizing for Innovation: How Team Configurations Vary With Modularity and Breadth of Application

Co-author(s): Sarah Kaplan (UofT)

2nd R&R in Strategic Management Journal, 2019

Download the PDF version of the draft here

Abstract: While innovation has increasingly become a collaborative effort, there is little consensus in research about what types of team configurations might be the most useful for creating breakthrough innovations. Do teams need to include inventors with knowledge breadth for recombination or do they need inventors with knowledge depth for identifying anomalies? Do teams need overlapping knowledge to integrate insights from diverse areas or does this redundancy hamper innovation by creating inefficiencies? In this paper, we suggest that the answers to these questions depend on the characteristics of the technologies, which explains why prior evidence based on single domains or that aggregates all technologies have yielded inconclusive findings. Focusing on the degree of modularity and the breadth of application in patent data, we find that differing team configurations are associated with different technological domains.

Keywords: Innovation, Breakthroughs, Team Configuration, Modularity, General Purpose Technologies, Topic Modeling, Innovation Organization