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When Do Expert Teams Fail to Create Impactful Inventions?

Simon J. D. Schillebeeckx, Yimin Lin and Gerard George

Journal of Management Studies, 2019, vol. 56, issue 6, 1073-1104

Abstract: We investigate the salience of expertise in creating high impact inventions and question experts’ ability to deploy novel ideas. Specifically, we examine the relationships between expertise, component originality, and a team's structural holes’ position in the collaborative network and propose that, in relative terms, expert teams create lower impact inventions if they deploy more original components and if they occupy structural holes. We test and confirm our hypotheses in a sample of semiconductor firms. In post‐hoc analyses, we find a three‐way interaction where the negative effect of structural holes almost disappears when an expert team experiments with original components whereas an increase in non‐redundancy is detrimental when teams with high expertise use familiar components. Our findings inform a foundational view of the invention process and provide novel insights into the contingent benefits of domain expertise.

Date: 2019
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