Innovation Outcomes in a Distributed Organization: Intrafirm Mobility and Access to Resources


Prior research has established a relation between intra-firm mobility and innovation outcomes at distributed organizations. The literature has also uniformly agreed on the mechanism underlying this relationship: the sharing of tacit knowledge and recombination of ideas that occurs because of intra-firm mobility. But a second mechanism may also be at work: intra-firm mobility might help distant employees secure access to resources for their innovative projects. Using unique data on travel, employment, and patenting for 1,315 inventors at the Indian R&D center of a Fortune 50 multinational, I find that intra-firm mobility in the form of short-duration business trips from a distant R&D location to headquarters is positively related to higher subsequent patenting at the individual level. I also find mobility immediately prior to meetings at which R&D funds are most likely to be disbursed to be related to higher subsequent patenting. This study sheds new light on how intra-firm mobility and possible face-to-face interactions with those who allocate resources might affect innovation outcomes and the matching of resources to individuals within a distributed organization.

DOI: 10.1287/orsc.2017.1121

Cite this paper

@article{Choudhury2017InnovationOI, title={Innovation Outcomes in a Distributed Organization: Intrafirm Mobility and Access to Resources}, author={Prithwiraj Choudhury}, journal={Organization Science}, year={2017}, volume={28}, pages={339-354} }