Ideas with impact: How connectivity shapes idea diffusion

Dirk Deichmann, Christine Moser, Julie M. Birkholz, Adina Nerghes, Peter Groenewegen, Shenghui Wang

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Abstract

Despite a growing body of research on idea diffusion, there is a lack of knowledge on why some ideas successfully diffuse and stand out from the crowd while others do not surface or remain unnoticed. We address this question by looking into the characteristics of an idea, specifically its connectivity in a content network. In a content network, ideas connect to other ideas through their content—the words that the ideas have in common. We hypothesize that a high connectivity of an idea in a content network is beneficial for idea diffusion because this idea will more likely be conceived as novel yet at the same time also as more useful because it appears as more familiar to the audience. Moreover, we posit that a high social connectivity of the team working on the idea further enhances the effect of high content connectivity on idea diffusion. Our study focuses on academic conference publications and the co-authorship data of a community of computer science researchers from 2006 to 2012. We find confirmation for our hypotheses and discuss the implications of these findings.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103881
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalResearch Policy
Volume49
Issue number1
Early online date11 Nov 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

Funding

We greatly benefitted from discussions with participants of sessions at EGOS, AOM, Sunbelt, and the Organization Science Winter conference. Furthermore, we are grateful for feedback that we received at workshops at Cass Business School, VU Amsterdam, and Grenoble Ecole de Management. Special thanks go to Steve Borgatti, Alexandra Gerbasi, and Marco Tonellato for valuable input, and Alexander Nordeen for helping with data preparation. The Network Institute of VU Amsterdam brought some of us together as collaborators, which deserves to be mentioned here. Finally, we would like to thank two anonymous reviewers and the editor for their critical and constructive feedback. All errors are ours.

FundersFunder number
Organization Science Winter
Cass Business School, City University London

    Keywords

    • Citations
    • Content network
    • Idea diffusion
    • Research collaboration
    • Scientific publication
    • Social network

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