Forgotten Third Parties: Analyzing the Contingent Association Between Unshared Third Parties, Knowledge Overlap, and Knowledge Transfer Relationships with Outsiders
Author(s)Reagans, Ray; Singh, Param Vir; Krishnan, Ramayya
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Third parties play a prominent role in network-based explanations for successful knowledge transfer. Third parties can be either shared or unshared. Shared third parties signal insider status and have a predictable positive effect on knowledge transfer. Unshared third parties, however, signal outsider status and are believed to undermine knowledge transfer. Surprisingly, unshared third parties have been ignored in empirical analysis, and so we do not know if or how much unshared third parties contribute to the process. Using knowledge transfer data from an online technical forum, we illustrate how unshared third parties affect the rate at which individuals initiate and sustain knowledge transfer relationships. Empirical results indicate that unshared third parties undermine knowledge sharing, and they also indicate that the magnitude of the negative unshared-third-party effect declines the more unshared third parties overlap in what they know. Our results provide a more complete view of how third parties contribute to knowledge sharing. The results also advance our understanding of network-based dynamics defined more broadly. By documenting how knowledge overlap among unshared third parties moderates their negative influence, our results show when the benefits provided by third parties and by bridges (i.e., relationships with outsiders) will be opposed versus when both can be enjoyed.
DepartmentSloan School of Management
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS)
Reagans, Ray et al. “Forgotten Third Parties: Analyzing the Contingent Association Between Unshared Third Parties, Knowledge Overlap, and Knowledge Transfer Relationships with Outsiders.” Organization Science 26, no. 5 (October 2015): 1400–1414 © 2015 Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS)
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