Publications / Papers Under Review

The effect of internal collaboration on inventor mobility: Quasi-experimental evidence from an office consolidation (Job Market Paper)

While previous research has examined the role of collaboration for value creation in firms’ innovation, little is known about how collaboration affects value capture from firms’ knowledge resources. This paper examines how collaboration among inventors within firms affects their mobility, a key influence on firms’ ability to capture value from knowledge assets. In contrast to conventional wisdom that collaboration decreases mobility due to the development of relational capital, collaboration may facilitate rather than deter inventor mobility, via three channels: (1) developing general human capital, (2) providing signals, and (3) expanding interpersonal contacts. These hypotheses are tested using an inventor-year panel that combines patent data and LinkedIn data. To mitigate self-selection biases, I use a novel research design that leverages a quasi-exogenous source of variation for inventors’ collaboration within firms: the increased collaboration generated by an office consolidation. The empirical evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that collaboration increases inventors’ mobility, and with the three proposed channels. These results make significant contributions to the literature on employee mobility and collaborative innovation.

Employee mobility barriers and inventor collaborativeness in firms (with Deepak Somaya)

Research has long recognized the importance of collaboration for innovation, but relatively little is known about the strategic drivers of collaborative innovation in firms. Because collaboration in innovation can increase the knowledge accessible to individual inventors and thus increase spillovers of innovative knowledge to competitors when inventors move between firms, we propose that barriers to employee mobility may induce firms to increase collaborativeness in innovation. Additionally, consistent with the mechanism underlying this proposition, we hypothesize that firms whose innovation entails more complex knowledge, which is known to impede inter-firm knowledge spillovers, will increase collaboration less with higher employee mobility barriers. We test these hypotheses by leveraging quasi- exogenous changes in two legal mobility barriers across U.S. states, and find that higher mobility barriers are associated with greater inventor collaboration (operationalized as the average number of co-inventors in patented innovation), and this effect is weaker for firms possessing more complex knowledge. These findings deepen our understanding of the strategic tradeoffs between value creation and value capture entailed in collaborative innovation within firms, and of human capital strategies that help to manage these tradeoffs.

  • Under 2nd Round Review at Organization Science
  • Winner, Best Interdisciplinary Paper Award (Strategic Human Capital IG), 2018 Strategic Management Society Annual Conference in Paris
  • Winner, SERI Best Doctoral Student Paper AwardAssociation of Korean Management Scholars, 2019

External knowledge sourcing and employee mobility barriers (with Deepak Somaya)

External knowledge sourcing is widely understood to be vital for firms’ innovation performance, but also a challenge for value capture by firms. We add to this literature by highlighting an under-studied downside of firms’ external knowledge sourcing activities; namely, the increased risks of losing valuable R&D talent. Therefore, in contrast with conventional wisdom, we propose that employee mobility barriers may paradoxically increase external knowledge sourcing from geographically proximate firms to whom R&D talent is likely to move. Leveraging a quasi-exogenous increase in mobility barriers resulting from a change in Michigan non-compete law, we find that—consistent with our theorized mechanism—mobility barriers increased firms’ external knowledge sourcing from local (within-state) sources, and this effect was stronger for firms that rely more internally developed (versus externally acquired) R&D talent, and in industries with weaker appropriability. Additional analyses provide corroborative evidence in the changes to specific firm-level knowledge sourcing activities within Michigan firms and in knowledge sourcing by firms following other state-level changes of non- compete law.

  • Under 1st Round Revision at Strategic Management Journal

Blending talents for innovation: Team composition for cross-border R&D collaboration within multinational corporations (with Hyo Kang & Jaeyong Song)

Despite the upsurge in cross-border R&D collaboration within multinational corporations (MNCs), firms often fail to realize the full potential of cross-border R&D teams. We examine under what conditions geographic diversity might lead to higher or lower innovation performance by focusing on the moderating roles of team composition. We first demonstrate that the geographic diversity of an MNC’s research team has a curvilinear (inverted U-shaped) relationship with the team’s innovation performance. Building upon group learning theory, we further claim that this non-linear relationship is strengthened by the technical experience heterogeneity of researchers but weakened by repeated collaboration among researchers. Our analyses on the top 25 multinational pharmaceutical companies and their 59,998 patents registered from 1981-2012 provide strong supports for our hypotheses. When geographic diversity is relatively low, teams with different levels of technical experience and more fresh collaborators improve performance by amplifying the benefits of sourcing diverse knowledge. With high geographic dispersion, on the other hand, minimal experience heterogeneity and more instances of past collaboration lead to better performance by facilitating the integration of diverse knowledge. The results shed light on the importance of technical and social relationships among researchers in sourcing and integrating location-specific knowledge and ultimately enhancing team performance.

A little help from my friends: How receiving assistance affects participation in online knowledge-sharing-communities (with Frank Nagle & Sonali Shah)

Online knowledge-sharing communities are important arenas for the development and exchange of knowledge; both firm participation and sponsorship in communities are increasing, as is scholarly interest in understanding how interactions between members shape subsequent participation. We contribute to this literature by examining the relationship between two increasingly relevant, yet underexplored, sets of variables: we examine the effects of with whom an interaction occurs (a user or an employee) on two types of participatory outcomes (future asking versus future replying). Specifically, we examine whether receiving a reply to a question––and from whom the reply is received––affects a new user’s likelihood of asking another question or replying to a question. We examine fifteen years of data from Statalist, the online community that formed around the Stata statistical software package. Our findings show that receiving a reply from another user is positively associated with future questioning, but negatively associated with future replying. However, receiving a reply from a firm employee is positively associated with future replying. To help address endogeneity concerns, we conducted qualitative interviews with Stata employees, implemented an instrumental variable-based approach, utilized a two-stage Heckman selection model, and applied coarsened exact matching; the findings remain consistent. These findings suggest that social interactions play a key role in shaping subsequent participation and the continued health of a community.