Whelan, Eoin and Donnellan, Brian and Golden, Willie and Teigland, Robin
How Internet technologies impact information flows in
R&D; reconsidering the technological gatekeeper.
R&D Management, 40 (4).
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.
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