Title: Inter-organisational collective learning: the case of biotechnology in France

Authors: Alvaro Pina-Stranger, Emmanuel Lazega

Addresses: ICSO, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile; IRISSO (CNRS – Universite Paris Dauphine), Paris, France. ' IRISSO (CNRS – Universite Paris Dauphine), Paris, France

Abstract: We explore inter-organisational collective learning by assuming that authority relationships are different at the inter- and the intra-organisational level. This difference has implications for the way in which a collective solves the problems related to the creation of a hierarchy between different bodies of appropriate knowledge. At the intra-organisational level, cognitive conflicts are solved by centralisation and alignment with opinion leaders who often have formal and epistemic authority. In this context, members tend not to seek advice from others |below| them in the organisational status hierarchy. At the inter-organisational level, we show that the absence of a formal hierarchy encourages entrepreneurs to invest heavily in relational activity. This behaviour allows them to keep their status in a context where epistemic conflicts become entrenched, following a polarisation process, in different epistemic communities. We illustrate this phenomenon with an empirical study of entrepreneurs in the French biotech industry.

Keywords: cooperation; homophily; biotechnology industry; collective learning; inter-organisational networks; advice networks; epistemic alignment; polarisation; France; inter-organisational learning; organisational learning; formal hierarchy; entrepreneurs; entrepreneurship; relational activity; biotech.

DOI: 10.1504/EJIM.2010.035591

European Journal of International Management, 2010 Vol.4 No.6, pp.602 - 620

Published online: 30 Sep 2010 *

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