Title: A comparative study of innovation-related knowledge acquisition strategies by boundary spanners in small and medium-sized companies within the DACH region
Language: English
Authors: Niedermair, Stefan 
Qualification level: Diploma
Advisor: Keinz, Peter 
Issue Date: 2020
Number of Pages: 135
Qualification level: Diploma
Small and medium-sized enterprises are the bedrocks of many economies. In order to innovate, research has found that these companies rely heavily on knowledge exchange with entities outside the company boundaries. These exchanges are enabled and orchestrated by individuals inside the company known as boundary spanners. This study aims to get a better understanding of how these individuals fulfill this role and what flows of information they make available to the company.Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven experts from different SMEs in the DACH region. The interviews were then analyzed using a 5-step framework developed to visualize the flow of different external streams of information through the company’s boundary to internal channels of dissemination. These flow graphs then offered the basis for the investigation into the different knowledge sourcing strategies pursued by the companies.The analysis shows that boundary spanning individuals enable almost all knowledge inflows in the observed companies, and many require direct personal interaction. The actual sourcing strategies they employ are, however, customized to the individual circumstances and needs of the company and industry and can range from extensive general searches to highly focused searches for specific types of information. The use of new technologies by boundary spanners is only meaningful under particular conditions, where the information needed by the company is available on the internet. Companies that need access to more sensitive information depend on the direct exchange with a boundary spanner. The boundary spanners’ ability to provide meaningful knowledge to a company does not only depend on his skills but also the means available for internal knowledge dissemination. Boundary spanning is a key enabler for innovation in SMEs that can not be adequately replaced by technology or other mechanisms. The creativity needed to make connections between a piece of information and the business context is a key ability of boundary spanners in this context.
Keywords: boundary spanning; information flow; open innovation; SME
URI: https://doi.org/10.34726/hss.2020.81518
DOI: 10.34726/hss.2020.81518
Library ID: AC15704313
Organisation: E017 - Continuing Education Center 
Publication Type: Thesis
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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