Roles of Giant Clusters in Knowledge Diffusion and Recombination
Columbia Business School, Columbia University
Jeho Lee and Jaeyong Song
Graduate School of Business, Seoul National University
In this paper, the inventor collaboration networks in the semiconductor division of Samsung are examined during the period from 1982 to 2006. The data analysis demonstrates that in the beginning, the collaboration networks were made up of unconnected small clusters corresponding to subunits. In the 1990s and onwards, a giant cluster made up of bridges connecting previously unrelated small- and medium-sized clusters emerged. However, hubs or extremely well-connected individuals are absent. To identify the role of the giant cluster in facilitating innovation, we develop computational models. Two roles are identified: knowledge integrator and knowledge reservoir. The giant cluster acts as a knowledge integrator by facilitating knowledge diffusion between previously unconnected clusters. As the cluster grows and more ties are formed, knowledge diffusion increases monotonically. However, in the case of knowledge recombination, performance does not increase monotonically with additional bridges. With too many bridges or hubs, knowledge recombination performance declines because giant clusters cannot keep diverse knowledge for future use—i.e., it is unable to play a role of knowledge reservoir. We find that only giant clusters with a modest proportion of bridges can act as a knowledge reservoir and facilitate innovation by better preserving diverse knowledge.
Key words: Network; Knowledge; Evolution; Innovation