Publication Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

10-1984

Abstract

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.

Discipline

Operations and Supply Chain Management | Technology and Innovation

Research Areas

Operations Management

Publication

R&D Management

Volume

14

Issue

4

First Page

239

Last Page

246

ISSN

0033-6807

Identifier

10.1111/j.1467-9310.1984.tb00520.x

Publisher

Wiley: 24 months

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Additional URL

http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9310.1984.tb00520.x

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