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Leveraging Knowledge Communication for Innovation

Framework, Methods and Applications of Social Network Analysis in Research and Development


Tobias Müller-Prothmann

The paradigm of social network analysis (SNA) is widely recognized as a potential approach to analyze, evaluate, and influence communication processes. The author argues that SNA proves useful as a theoretical concept and as a practical tool for knowledge communication in research and development (R&D). The context of innovative knowledge generation in organizational R&D environments is introduced very broadly with reference to the existing literature. The pragmatic approach of networks is outlined as a powerful concept to grasp the social relationships between individuals as well as between social aggregates for conceptual and analytical purposes. Based on three case studies, methods of SNA are simplified and illustrated according to their basic steps to meet practical needs and show their usefulness for business practice. Moreover, the book provides examples for interventions and follow-up activities to improve processes of organizational knowledge communication based on SNA.


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6 Conclusion and Outlook 241


6 Conclusion and Outlook 6.1 Synopsis The thesis “Leveraging Knowledge Communication for Innovation” focuses on knowledge communication and social networks in research and development (R&D) environments. While social network analysis has become more widely recognized as a potential method to analyze, evaluate, and influence processes of knowledge generation and communication, and various papers promote its poten- tial usefulness as a knowledge management tool, this thesis presents a compre- hensive conceptual framework from a theoretical perspective as well as suitable analytical methods for organizational practice. In this study, the context of innovative knowledge generation in organizational R&D environments is introduced very broadly with reference to the existing lit- erature. In addition to other findings of academic research and publications, rel- evance of the subject is empirically explored through data from an expert survey and three case studies that were undertaken by the author. Knowledge, communication and their social organization constitute the central points of reference to this work. Knowledge is perceived from a social construc- tivist perspective. As understood here, knowledge is a human act and it is socially constructed. This conception of knowledge is the common link between the var- ious existing approaches and it serves the goal of this study best from analytical and conceptual perspectives with regard to its subject of research. From a social constructivist perspective, managing knowledge is not literally possible. We have to focus on conditions and influence factors of knowledge gen- eration, sharing, use, conservation, and forgetting on individual, organizational, and societal...

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