A Social-Cognitive Perspective on Firm Innovation

by Yang Xu
published by Academy of Strategic Management Journal, 2011
Ref ASMJ10-09
 

Innovation is the driving force of economic growth, writes the author of this article, but there is much confusion about how to encourage it. The article reviews the literature on social networks and organisational learning, incorporating the cognitive and social factors that influence innovation and research.

Innovation is the driving force of economic growth, writes the author of this article, but there is much confusion about how to encourage it. The article reviews the literature on social networks and organisational learning, incorporating the cognitive and social factors that influence innovation and research.

Social capital is defined as networks of relationships and assets located in those networks: dynamic industries find social capital crucial to support innovation. Cognition is defined as the knowledge structures or mental templates that individuals impose to provide form and meaning. Therefore, it’s necessary to understand the process of cognition as this is essential to understanding innovation.

Innovation involves both the generation and the exploitation of new products, processes, services and business practices, writes the author, and it requires special kinds of informational and coordination mechanisms. The article proposes a social cognitive perspective for studying the sources of innovation, arguing that the impact of social capital on innovation can hardly be evaluated without first understanding the individual cognitive characteristics of the entrepreneur or top management team.

By distinguishing between cognitive structures, as well as social capital characteristics, and by investigating their effects on innovation, this article builds on and extends the literature on organisation theory and innovation research. 

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About the author

Yang Xu is an Associate Professor of Business at Penn State New Kensington. She holds an MBA from China Europe International Business School (2000) and a Ph.D. in Business from Virginia Tech (2006).

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