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Divide to connect: Reorganization through R&D unit spinout as linking context of intra-corporate networks
Stefano Breschi
Andrea Prencipe
2018, Research Policy, 47(9), pp.1585-1600
The paper examines the formation of clique-spanning ties in intra-corporate co-invention networks, by focusing on the impact of R&D unit spinouts. Using data on thirty-one spinouts in eight large U.S. information and communication technology corporations, we show that the reorganization of R&D units through corporate spinouts is associated with an increase in the extent to which inventors employed in the unit collaborate with inventors located in other cliques within the corporate co-invention network. Interestingly, the spinout effect spills over to all members of the clique of spun-out inventors, also including those who remain with the parent firm. The interpretation of these empirical findings, grounded on existing theories and on the views of inventors and executives involved in the reorganization events, suggests that corporate spinouts generate a shock in intra-corporate research collaboration dynamics, which loosens clique lock-in effects and contributes to reset cliques’ boundaries in the intra-corporate research network.
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