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Danielle Dunne

Assistant Professor of Strategy, University of New York at Binghampton

The Collective Sense of the Scientist (with Deborah Dougherty)

In this paper we aim to deepen existing understandings of how industrial scientists create and apply their knowledge as they work on product innovation in industries such as bio-pharmaceuticals. We develop a theoretical framework that explains how three types of social structures enable the creation and application of knowledge by scientists as they work on product innovation. We base our framework on the analysis of 85 interviews with scientist working in product innovation in the bio-pharmaceuticals industry. We call the overall framework we develop “the collective sense of the scientist.” This framework explains how three types of social structures that we find in these data produce and maintain this collective sense. The three social structures are (1) scientists’ connections to the larger community of science, (2) the sensory body of the scientists at work, and (3) what scientists know in the context of their overall innovation process of drug discovery. Further, we analyze each type social structure and identify the underlying mechanisms that explain why each is central to knowledge creation in this innovation process..