Identifying key knowledge clusters by using social network analysis – a case study of Firmenich SA

University essay from Lunds universitet/Ekonomisk-historiska institutionen

Abstract: In an innovation-driven economy, intangible assets (such as the information embodied in the relations between parties) are considered critical to the creation of new services and products. Still, innovation is viewed as a “black box” by managers, scholars and policymakers. In efforts to provide a better understanding of this process, this thesis shows a case study of the largest, privately-owned fragrance and flavor producers in the world – Firmenich SA. By employing their patent data the research provides support for the knowledge-based theory and portrays social network analysis as a promising tool for the identification of knowledge clusters. Consequently, the thesis identifies ten general knowledge agglomerations within the company and relates them to three categories: (1) type of innovation; (2) knowledge sources; (3) and attitude towards innovation. Based on these findings the study suggests a model for tackling innovation for high-tech organizations of similar size to Firmenich, in the chemical industries. The model allows the manager to choose the appropriate governance approach according to the decomposability and urgency of the identified issue.

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