Internal capabilities, external structural holes network positions, and knowledge creation

Yin Chi Liao, Phillip H. Phan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Social network theory suggests that firms bridging structural holes by connecting disconnected partners in a network benefit from timely access to diverse knowledge. However, the existing literature reports mixed evidence with regard to the performance implications of this view. Our study examines how a firm’s diverse knowledge base and knowledge-processing capabilities affect knowledge creation when a firm bridges multiple structural holes in an inter-firm network. The model is tested on a sample of 191 firms in high-technology industries. The dependent variable, knowledge creation, was measured by the number of patents generated. Results show that when a firm spans multiple structural holes, its diverse technological knowledge facilitates knowledge creation. However, when a firm already possesses well-developed knowledge acquisition capabilities, spanning structural holes reduces knowledge creation. This paper suggests that internal knowledge base and knowledge-processing capabilities determine the impacts of external network positions on firm knowledge creation. It provides implications on how a firm best capitalizes on external network positions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1148-1167
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Technology Transfer
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Innovation
  • Knowledge-based view
  • Organizational capabilities
  • Social network
  • Structural holes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Accounting
  • Engineering(all)


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