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Am Behav Sci. 2015 May 1;59(5):548-564. Epub 2014 Nov 14.

The effects of diversity and network ties on innovations: The emergence of a new scientific field.

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1
Northwestern University.

Abstract

This study examines the influence of different types of diversity, both observable and unobservable, on the creation of innovative ideas. Our framework draws upon theory and research on information processing, social categorization, coordination, and homophily to posit the influence of cognitive, gender, and country diversity on innovation. Our longitudinal model is based on a unique dataset of 1,354 researchers who helped create the new scientific field of Oncofertility, by collaborating on 469 publications over a four-year period. We capture the differences among researchers along cognitive, country and gender dimensions, as well as examine how the resulting diversity or homophily influences the formation of collaborative innovation networks. We find that innovation, operationalized as publishing in a new scientific discipline, benefits from both homophily and diversity. Homophily in country of residence and working with prior collaborators help reduce uncertainty in the interactions associated with innovation, while diversity in knowledge enables the recombinant knowledge required for innovation.

KEYWORDS:

Innovation; co-authorship; diversity; networked work

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