Phd Defense by Maria Roche
Area: Strategy & Innovation
Committee members: Alexander Oettl (chair), Frank T. Rothaermel, Pian Shu, Peter Thompson, Annamaria Conti (UNIL)
Title: Interactions and Innovation
Interaction between individuals is especially crucial for innovation as it enables the exchange and recombination of knowledge necessary to create new or improve existing technologies, processes, or products. In my dissertation, I propose to examine three different factors (using three different datasets) that influence innovation via their impact on interpersonal exchange: physical structure, social proximity, and temporal overlap. The first chapter analyzes how the physical layout of cities affects innovation by influencing the organization of knowledge exchange. Here, I exploit a novel data set covering all Census Block Groups in the contiguous United States with information on innovation outcomes, street infrastructure, as well as population and workforce characteristics. In the second chapter (co-authored), I add a social component to my analyses and assess the influence of both close geographic and social proximity on technology adoption decisions at one of the largest technology co-working hubs in the United States. Finally, in the third chapter, I examine the impact of exposure to an entrepreneurial advisor on the innovative output of their PhD students using a unique matched sample of advisors and advisees in computer sciences and engineering at a top US research university. The advisor-advisee relationship is highly interpersonal and developmental and, as such, includes both physical, social and temporal components shaping interaction patterns. Overall, this dissertation takes an important step towards understanding how the environments of knowledge producers impact innovation via the extent to which they facilitate interpersonal exchange and influence the types of interactions that occur among individuals.