How knowledge affects radical innovation: knowledge base, market knowledge
acquisition, and internal knowledge sharing
Zhou & Li
- Radical innovation: the novel, unique, or state-of-the-art technological advance in a
product category that significantly alters the consumption patterns in a market.
- Knowledge-based view (KBV): new product creativity is primarily a function of the
firm’s ability to manage, maintain, and create knowledge.
- The effect of a firm’s existing knowledge base must be considered together with its
external and internal knowledge integration mechanisms.
- We examine how external market knowledge acquisition and internal knowledge
sharing may condition the effect of the knowledge base on radical innovation.
Theory and hypotheses
- According to the KBV, a firm’s existing knowledge base delimits its scope and
capacity to comprehend and apply novel knowledge to radical innovations.
- Knowledge breadth: the extent to which the firm’s knowledge repository contains
distinct and multiple domains.
- Knowledge depth: the level of sophistication and complexity of knowledge in key
- A knowledge base alone may not be sufficient for successful product development;
the firm also must use knowledge integration mechanisms to capture, interpret, and
deploy its knowledge resources.
- Market knowledge acquisition: an external integration mechanism that facilitates
the absorption of critical knowledge from external market sources.
- Knowledge sharing: an internal integration mechanism, involving the dissemination
and synthesis of individually and organizationally held knowledge through
established processes and routines.
Knowledge breadth and radical innovation
- Two requirements to develop radical innovations:
o Generating breakthrough ideas that enable firms to discover nascent
technologies and real opportunities hidden within miscellaneous
Because the firm already has information about heterogeneous
market segments, the marginal benefits of additional market
knowledge acquisition decline.
Knowledge sharing provides a shaking process, through which the
firm can connect and integrate its broad knowledge across disparate
fields in unforeseen and unusual patterns to generate breakthrough
ideas for radical innovation.
o Implementing the breakthrough ideas into commercial technologies through
resource synthesis and utilization.
Additional information acquired from the external market can lead to
information overload for a firm with broad knowledge. Also, the