Samina Karim: Structural Knowledge

This paper explores organizational knowledge that is embodied in structures and executives by [...]studying the relationship between the structural composition of units, the movement of executives between units, and the recombination of those units. The 'structural composition' of a business unit includes its origin (as internally developed, acquired, or a recombination of existing units) and its subsequent recombination history. Drawing on the knowledge based view of the firm and human capital theory, we predict that executives will tend to move to units with similar structural composition. In addition, we expect that units receiving many executives, those with recombination experience, and those from internally developed core units are more likely to be structurally changed. The study tests these propositions in a sample of 48 multidivisional firms in the U.S. medical sector over twenty years. We find that executives are more likely to be moved to units with similar structural composition, supporting human capital theory and the expectation of firm-specific knowledge being leveraged across the firm. Units are more likely recombined that receive executives from internally developed units, not executives with recombination experience. This finding highlights that those closest to the dominant logic of the firm are associated with structural change.

Tags: faculty, boston university, research, School of Management, faculty research day

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