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Technology Brokering and Innovation in a Product Development Firm

Andrew Hargadon and Robert I. Sutton
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 42, No. 4 (Dec., 1997), pp. 716-749
DOI: 10.2307/2393655
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2393655
Page Count: 34
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Technology Brokering and Innovation in a Product Development Firm
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Abstract

We blend network and organizational memory perspectives in a model of technology brokering that explains how an organization develops innovative products. The model is grounded in observations, interviews, informal conversations, and archived data gathered during an ethnography of IDEO, a product design firm. This firm exploits its network position, working for clients in at least 40 industries, to gain knowledge of existing technological solutions in various industries. It acts as a technology broker by introducing these solutions where they are not known and, in the process, creates new products that are original combinations of existing knowledge from disparate industries. Designers exploit their access to a broad range of technological solutions with organizational routines for acquiring and storing this knowledge in the organization's memory and, by making analogies between current design problems and the past solutions they have seen, retrieving that knowledge to generate new solutions to design problems in other industries. We discuss the implications of this research for understanding the individual and organizational processes and norms underlying technology and knowledge transfer more generally.

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