The paper deals with the question whether gatekeepers arise spontaneously (non-hierarchical) or are created by administrative action (hierarchical). The author's approach to the problem relies on the use of a lifecycle model of an organisation devised by Utterback and Abernathy. They distinguish a product-innovation, a transitional and process- innovation (consolidation) phase in the development of an enterprise. The author's hypothesis is that gatekeepers can arise via either route depending on the phase in which enterprise is operating. In the earlier phases the author predicts that gatekeepers will either be absent or non-hierarchical (spontaneous) while in later phases they will be hierarchical (ex-officio).A test of the hypothesis was carried out on R&D engineers in 16 small firms making non-consumer products in Belgium. The investigation involved sociometric analysis of the communication patterns of members of various R&D groups with their group colleagues or with contacts outside the organisation from which a new gatekeeper definition was derived. The author also devised a new means of characterising the innovatory phase of an enterprise.The results are broadly in accordance with the author's hypothesis. The lesson for management of firms about to innovate radically is to set up its structure in such a way that spontaneous communication links cross-cutting formal communication lines are able to flourish.
Operations and Supply Chain Management | Technology and Innovation
Wiley: 24 months
DE MEYER, Arnoud Cyriel Leo.
A technological lifecycle approach to the organizational-factors determining gatekeeper activities. (1984). R&D Management. 14, (4), 239-246. Research Collection Lee Kong Chian School Of Business.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/lkcsb_research/5446
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