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.
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- Technology innovation
- Topic Modeling