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Idea twins: Simultaneous discoveries as a research tool

Michaël Bikard

Strategic Management Journal, 2020, vol. 41, issue 8, 1528-1543

Abstract: Research Summary Over half a century after Merton's (1963) description of simultaneous discoveries “as a strategic research site” for social science, they are hardly ever studied. This paper illustrates the potential of this phenomenon as a research tool. First, I describe their vast theoretical potential for strategy and innovation research and review prior works on the topic. Second, I describe a new method that generates lists of recent simultaneous discoveries in science systematically and automatically using openly available sources. Third, I make the resulting dataset available for anyone to use. Managerial Summary Despite much anecdotal evidence that different people can simultaneously come up with essentially the same creative idea, little attention has been given to this phenomenon. Yet, “idea twins” have a deep impact on creative workers, and can teach us a lot about strategy and innovation. In this paper, I describe their potential as a research tool and the types of questions they can help to answer. I also propose a method to “harvest” simultaneous discoveries in science and provide a dataset that includes thousands of examples.

Date: 2020
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