Organizations typically employ a division of labor between specialist creator roles and generalist business roles in a bid to orchestrate innovation. We seek to determine the extent to which individuals dividing the work across roles can also benefit from dividing their network. We argue that collaborating individuals benefit from connecting to the same groups but different individuals within those groups—an approach we label dual networking—rather than from a pure divide-and-conquer approach. To test this argument, we study a dual career-ladder setting in a large multinational in which R&D managers and technologists partner up in their quest for innovation. We find that collaborators who engage in dual networking attain an innovation performance advantage over those who connect to distinct groups. This advantage stems from the opportunity to engage in the dual interpretation of input the partners receive, as well as from dual influencing that helps them to gain momentum for their proposed innovations, and it leads to more effective elaboration and championing of their ideas. In demonstrating these effects, we advance understanding of how collaborators organize their networking activities to best achieve innovative outcomes.
Ter Wal, A. L. J., Criscuolo, P., McEvily, B., & Salter, A. (2020). DUAL NETWORKING: HOW COLLABORATORS NETWORK IN THEIR QUEST FOR INNOVATION. Administrative Science Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1177/0001839219893691