The Mobility of People, Ideas and Knowledge in the Entrepreneurial Society

University dissertation from Linköping : Institutionen för ekonomisk och industriell utveckling, Linköpings universitet

Abstract: As radical innovations facilitate communication, create new industries and make others obsolete, the established ways of organising society are being questioned. Over the last few decades, a theoretical framework and a worldview labelled the entrepreneurial society, has emerged. The entrepreneurial society is based on theoretical models, empirical observations and a belief in the importance of new businesses.The core of the entrepreneurial society is the claim that valuable ideas have to be commercialised in order to contribute to economic growth and prosperity. Unfortunately, valuable ideas remain dormant due to a number of barriers. Labour mobility, informal networks and entrepreneurship are mechanisms with the potential of overcoming these barriers.This thesis aims to increase our understanding of how ideas diffuse between and get applied within organisations. The thesis relates its findings to the entrepreneurial society and identifies and critically assesses basic assumptions and biases underlying the framework.The thesis presents and discusses six studies, each published as an article in a scientific journal, a chapter in an edited book, or as a conference paper at an international academic conference. Taken together, the findings in this thesis emphasise that the mobility of ideas is intertwined with the mobility of people and knowledge. More specifically, the findings indicate that employees in large R&Ddriven projects not only attain knowledge from external sources, but also that the use of external knowledge sources is positively related to new ideas connected to the projects.In addition, this thesis reinforces the argument that the mobility of knowledge workers is particularly beneficial to the diffusion of knowledge and ideas between organisations; the results show that employees in knowledge-intensive positions perceive greater opportunities to generate, share and develop ideas in organisations, as compared to employees in less knowledge-intensive positions.This thesis suggests that new employees tend to have an entrepreneurial potential in the form of a greater drive for change and less habituation with current practices. Nevertheless, such potential is often curbed by resistant routines. However, the thesis also finds that much entrepreneurship literature and the discourse of policy makers are biased towards overly optimistic views of entrepreneurship.The literature on the entrepreneurial society emphasises the diffusion and application of new R&D-related knowledge and ideas. This thesis also emphasises the diffusion and application of already widespread and established knowledge, ideas and innovations.