Sub-theme 35: Innovation, Knowledge Integration and Path Dependence: Towards More Reflective Practices

Jörg Sydow, Freie Universität, Germany, & Strathclyde University, UK
Christian Berggren, Linköping University, Sweden
Robert DeFillippi, Suffolk University, Boston, USA

Call for Papers

To develop innovative products and processes, and to solve challenging social and institutional problems, the integration and not simply the combination of complementary knowledge is becoming increasingly important. Network structures, alliances and other organizational arrangements are often valuable venues to get access such complementary knowledge, but they are seldom sufficient. Rather it is necessary to integrate stocks and flows of knowledge with the help of a variety of organizational practices and mechanisms.

Going beyond a governance perspective on organizations and interorganizational arrangements, the sub-theme explores how actual practices help or hinder the integration of diverse sets of knowledge. Going beyond the conventional focus on firms with strong R&D capabilities in such inquiries, the sub-theme invites studies of knowledge integration practices across boundaries, in private as well as public sectors, from sophisticated crime investigations making use of an ever increasing menu of advanced detection technologies to international relief and emergency operations.

Studies of knowledge integration practices with their emphasis on sociomaterial detail complement extant research on open innovation, absorptive capacity, R&D partnerships, and organizational learning. An ambition is to specifically highlight the tensions and contradictions between novelty and path dependence; no matter whether the latter is rooted in technological, institutional or organizational arrangements or – like in regional clusters – a mixture of all three. In all these cases, path dependencies are likely to hinder the absorption and integration of new knowledge which is required for innovation; sometimes making the breaking of an established path or the even the creation of a new path necessary.

The sub-theme invites contributions that focus on one or several of the following issues, more or less addressing the intersection of innovation, knowledge integration and path dependence:

  • Organizing for knowledge integration practices in open innovation processes
  • Knowledge absorption and integration in rapidly developing firms in emerging economies
  • Combining and integrating extremely diverse knowledge for radical innovations
  • Sociomaterial practices of knowledge integration for incremental innovations
  • Organizational/institutional path dependence as a barrier to knowledge integration
  • Path dependence of knowledge accumulation processes in and among organizations
  • Interplay of power and path dependence in knowledge integration processes
  • Knowledge integration practices in public sector organizations
  • Organizational and network learning perspectives on knowledge integration
  • Capturing reflexivity in knowledge integration processes
  • Indicators of knowledge integration, qualitative and quantitative methods for empirical studies beyond patent data.

We cordially invite papers which discuss these and similar issues, empirically, conceptually or methodologically, with regard to recent or more historical developments.

The sub-theme wishes to attract both high-quality contributions that are ready to be submitted to a journal as well as research in progress that explores these challenging issues. All paper presentations will be commented by a discussant from the group. Session chairs will be asked to provide an open and encouraging atmosphere for discussion.


Jörg Sydow is Professor of Management at the School of Business & Economics of Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, and a Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Business of Strathclyde University, Glasgow, UK. He is a founding co-editor of two leading German journals and member of the editorial boards of 'Organization Studies', 'Organization Science', 'Academy of Management Review', 'Academy of Management Journal', and 'The Scandinavian Journal of Management'. His research focuses on management and organization theory; strategic partnering and inter-firm networking, especially in service and science-based industries; technology and innovation management, especially the management of innovation networks and clusters; and industrial relations.
Christian Berggren is Professor of Industrial Management at Linköping University, Sweden, where he is co-directing a nine-year research program on "Knowledge Integration and Innovation in an Internationalizing Economy" (KITE). His current research focuses on processes of creative accumulation and technology competition, regulation, public policy and environmental innovation as well as studies of rapid capability building, knowledge acquisition and knowledge integration at innovating firms in emerging economies. He is also involved in studies and debates regarding current forms of academic identity formation and the problems of triviality and plagiarism in management research.
Robert DeFillippi is Professor of Strategy and International Business at Suffolk University in Boston, USA. He held visiting scholar appointments at Imperial College of London, Cass Business School London, UK; the Center for Research in Innovation Management at the University of Sussex, UK; Polytechnico di Milan, Italy; and the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. His research, teaching and consulting practice focuses on creative collaborations and knowledge- and project-based perspectives on innovation. He is currently Consulting Editor for the 'International Journal of Management Reviews' and also serves on the editorial board of the 'Journal of Media Business Studies'.