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How Internet technologies impact information flows in R&D: reconsidering the technological gatekeeper

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Previous studies have firmly established the technological gatekeeper to be a key node in the innovation process – acquiring, translating, and disseminating external information throughout the R&D unit. However, the gatekeeper concept has received modest attention in recent times. We argue that the concept needs to be re-examined in light of the recent advances in Internet technologies that have dramatically altered how knowledge workers source and share their information. Drawing on social network analysis and interview evidence from a medical devices R&D group, we find that the gatekeeper role is still vital, but no longer needs to be performed by a single individual. Instead, the modern R&D group can keep abreast of the latest technological advances through a combination of Internet-enabled internal and external communication specialists. This study makes a number of important contributions. The gatekeeper theory is extended through the development of an updated conceptual framework. We also discuss the practical implications of our findings and advise R&D managers on how to organise resources to maximise optimal information flows.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Management and Marketing, Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland., Email: 2: Center for Competitiveness & Strategy, Stockholm School of Economics, Box 6501, Stockholm SE-113 53, Sweden., Email: 3: Innovation Value Institute, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Ireland., Email: 4: J. E Cairnes School of Business & Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland., Email:

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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