Knowledge Pathways and Performance: An Empirical Study of the National Laboratories in a Technology Latecomer Country

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International Journal of Innovation & Technology Management

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A broadly based, quantitative, empirical study of 208 R&D projects within the national laboratories (NLs) of a technology latecomer country (TLC) finds that the performance of R&D projects within the NLs of that TLC is highly dependent on the pathway by which knowledge enters the R&D project group that delivers the project or on how it is created therein. Performance also depends upon the mission of the NLs with which the project is aligned. These findings suggest that managers of R&D project groups within the NLs in this TLC can take a nuanced approach to organizational learning. They can improve the performance of individual R&D projects by emphasizing the knowledge pathways that have the greatest positive impact on the mission that is most important to the project. The study’s findings also provide theoretical insights that go beyond the context of NLs in TLCs. They explain why vicarious learning cannot be associated positively with team performance, and they suggest that contextual learning is positively correlated to team performance under specific circumstances, only. Moreover, the findings imply that extant theory on organizational learning is insufficiently granular to explain the apparently complex relationship between group knowledge and group performance.


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