Managing occupational boundaries to improve innovation outcomes in industry-research organisations
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Commercialisation activities combining the discoveries of one occupational group, such as scientists, with the commercial skills of managers involve interactions across occupational and organisational cultures. This article explores the challenges posed by working across occupational and organisational boundaries, and describes management techniques developed informally in four Australian organisations to address barriers to knowledge transfer. It identifies the existence of Knowledge-stewarding Communities of Practice (CoP) that span organisational boundaries and impact commercialisation outcomes. It also presents recommendations for management practice based upon diversity management and innovation theories. The context of the study is Australian hybrid industry-research organisations composed of academic, government and industry personnel. Semi-structured interviews with a total of twenty scientists, engineers and managers focused on their experiences of knowledge sharing across organisational and occupational cultures, and methods used to manage these boundaries. The existence and efficacy of boundary-crossing individuals and boundary object strategies are explored. A generic process management model of innovation is extended to acknowledge and accommodate occupational and organisational cultural proclivities towards exploration or exploitation, and to stimulate future research.
Journal of Management & Organization
© 2012 Emerald. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.