Weak Ties and Innovation
ROR Stage: gathering and analyzing data
The concept of weak ties is one of the most influential sociological concepts in the last 40 years. Weak ties refer to people we don't see frequently, those that we know only through referrals from others, or those that we share some affiliations with but with whom we have not built relationships. Although strong ties are quite good at facilitating the exchange of knowledge because levels of trust/engagement and shared understanding are high, these relationships also frequently possess largely redundant knowledge. Weak ties in contrast are more likely to offer novel knowledge and thus may be more important to creativity and certain phases of innovation.
This ROR is examining what organizational or social networking factors facilitate the connection of weak ties to drive innovation. We are particularly interested in how trust can be developed quickly between weak ties. The project is following a dual pronged approach to share best practices and develop thought leading perspectives about how weak ties impact innovation. The first approach involves the execution of a series of survey-based network and innovation studies. In addition, we will be running a series of workshops looking at trust development in organizations. Trust is one of the critical elements to enabling weak ties to be powerful sources of innovation. These workshops will be run at the formally scheduled IRI meetings as well as outside of meetings with a group of IRI member organizations that make up the Weak Ties ROR “core team”.
Facilitators: Natalie Schoch, Kellogg Company; Len Huskey, US Army Research Laboratory; Catherine Conaghan, Sealed Air; Rob McNamee, Temple University (SME)