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Knowledge exploration and innovation: A review and an inverse S-curve proposition

  • Ben Nanfeng Luo (a1), Steven Lui (a2), Chih-Hsing Liu (a3) and Rongrong Zhang (a4)


Firms today thrive on innovation. Knowledge exploration, the nonlocal search for new knowledge beyond the firm’s current expertise, is posited to be critical for innovation. This paper seeks to contribute to the research on knowledge exploration in two ways. First, this paper provides a comprehensive review of key empirical studies on knowledge exploration and innovation. Second, this paper proposes a recombinatory search framework of innovation to reconceptualise extant understanding of knowledge exploration on innovation. This new framework focusses on the evolution of the benefits and costs of knowledge exploration, and puts forward an inverse S-curve proposition between knowledge exploration and innovation. Two company cases, IBM and Procter & Gamble, are then used to illustrate the new proposition.


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