Organizational attention and technological search in the multibusiness firm: Motorola from 1974 to 1997

Alex James Wilson, John Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examines the effects of organizational attention on technological search in the multibusiness firm. We argue that attentional specialization and coupling, or (respectively) attention given to problems within and across units, affect a unit's ability to engage in distant and local search by shaping how problems are perceived and addressed. We test this theory by applying a probabilistic topic model to all Motorola patents issued from 1974 to 1997, thus identifying and measuring attention to technical problems. Our results suggest that (a) subunits with specialized attention are not myopic but instead explore broadly and (b) tight attentional coupling across units increases the breadth of search. This study contributes to attention-based views of the firm and to studies on organizational design and search.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-435
Number of pages29
JournalAdvances in Strategic Management
Volume32
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2015 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Search
  • Structure
  • Technology innovation
  • Topic Modeling

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