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Title:Collaboration for innovation through the lens of employee mobility
Author(s):Seo, Eunkwang
Director of Research:Somaya, Deepak
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Somaya, Deepak
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Mahoney, Joseph T; Ganco, Martin; Won, Shinjae
Department / Program:Business Administration
Discipline:Business Administration
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):collaborative innovation
employee mobility
knowledge spillovers
value capture
mobility barriers
office consolidation
difference-in-differences
Abstract:Collaboration has become a central driver of technological innovation in the modern knowledge economy. Although prior research has provided insight into the pivotal role of collaboration for value creation in firms, relatively little is known about its role in value capture in firms. This dissertation fills this gap by examining how inventors’ within-firm collaboration is related to their inter-firm mobility, a key factor known to affect firms’ value capture from knowledge assets. Specifically, Chapter 1 introduces prior research on collaborative innovation and presents an overview of this dissertation. Chapter 2 examines how inventor collaboration can induce inventors to move to other firms. The current literature suggests that collaboration may decrease employee mobility because it creates relational capital, which is valuable to inventors but likely to be disrupted when they move. This chapter, however, shows that collaboration can facilitate inventor mobility by enhancing their general human capital, providing quality signals, and expanding interpersonal contacts. Leveraging exogenous changes in collaboration opportunities caused by an office consolidation event, this chapter finds a positive impact of collaboration on inventor mobility and empirical evidence that corroborates the three proposed mechanisms. Chapter 3 examines how collaboration influences knowledge spillovers by mobile inventors. Although prior research has offered many insights on mobility-induced knowledge spillovers, whether mobile employees can transfer the knowledge generated by other employees in their previous firms remains underexplored. This chapter proposes that pre-mobility and post-mobility collaboration jointly affect knowledge spillovers by mobile inventors. Using a difference-in-differences approach with matching, this chapter finds that collaborators’ knowledge is more likely than non-collaborators’ knowledge to be transferred by mobile inventors, and this effect is strengthened by the intensity of the post-mobility collaboration of the mobile inventors and the knowledge similarity between their pre- and post-mobility collaborators. Chapter 4 investigates how employee mobility can enhance a firm’s collaboration. As Chapters 2 and 3 show, robust internal collaboration may increase the risk of knowledge spillovers from the firm through employee mobility. Accordingly, mobility barriers can help make firms more collaborative by mitigating this potential hazard. By leveraging exogenous changes in the enforceability of non-compete agreements and the adoption of inevitable disclosure doctrines, this chapter finds that employee mobility barriers increase inventor collaboration in firms and that this effect is weaker for firms with complex knowledge, which corroborates the mechanism proposed. Chapter 5 concludes with how the findings of this dissertation provide nuanced insights into potential consequences of inventor collaboration as well as strategic values of employee mobility for innovation in firms.
Issue Date:2021-10-25
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/113819
Rights Information:© 2021 Eunkwang Seo
Date Available in IDEALS:2022-04-29
Date Deposited:2021-12


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