Bridging the Gap: Boundary Spanners’ Selective Network Mobilization across the Industry-academia Divide

Valentina Tartari, Anne L. J. Ter Wal, Balint Dioszegi, Maureen McKelvey

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


Network boundary spanners have been shown to be in a privileged position to generate innovation outcomes, yet it is unclear how they decide which contacts to rely on when. This paper posits that many boundary spanners will forgo the opportunities their structural position affords, as stronger identification with one of the two domains they span may lead them to predominantly mobilize network contacts in that domain, irrespective of the type of input specific situations may require. We argue that those with a high self-monitoring orientation, however, will overcome tendencies to have identity inform network choices, and will thus selectively mobilize contacts from both sides of the boundary. We test these predictions in the context of scientists with dedicated boundary-spanning roles between industry and academia who are expected to routinely draw on network resources on both sides of the ?divide? to perform their jobs. Using two framed field experiments, we find support for our predictions. Our findings imply that it may not be sufficient for organizations seeking to promote the cross-fertilization of ideas to allocate individuals to boundary-spanning roles; they need to train and encourage their staff to identify with the domains at both sides of the boundary to enable selective network mobilization to help them leverage the potential from boundary spanning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2021
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventDRUID21 Conference - Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Duration: 18 Oct 202120 Oct 2021
Conference number: 42


ConferenceDRUID21 Conference
LocationCopenhagen Business School
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