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PERSPECTIVE: The World's Top Innovation Management Scholars and Their Social Capital


  • *This work was supported in full or in part by a grant from the Fogelman College of Business & Economics at the University of Memphis. This research support does not imply endorsement of the research results by either the Fogelman College or the University of Memphis.

Address correspondence to: Jeff Thieme, 307 Fogelman College of Business and Economics, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN 38152-3120. Tel.: (901) 678-5231. Fax: (901) 678-4051. E-mail:


Using 959 articles reflecting the work of 1,179 scholars, this study ranks the world's top scholars in innovation management (IM) on the basis of the number of research articles published across 14 top academic journals in technology and innovation management, marketing, and management between 1990 and 2004. Twenty-three scholars have at least eight articles in this period. Michael Song has the most (31), followed by Robert Cooper, Roger Calantone, William Souder, and Elko Kleinschmidt, who have published at least 17 articles in the 15-year period. Surprisingly, the list of schools that either trained or currently employ these top scholars is quite different from Linton's (2004) recent ranking of the top business schools in the management of technology. Guided by social capital theory, the present study analyzes the embeddedness characteristics of IM scholars to determine the extent to which social capital explains scholarly productivity. A current controversy in the social capital literature is the embeddedness characteristics that create social capital. On the one hand, the closure perspective argues that social capital results from strong relational ties with others in a dense, local neighborhood of actors who are relatively disconnected from others. On the other hand, the brokerage perspective argues that social capital is created when actors have relational ties that span these dense, local neighborhoods. The findings in the present study support both perspectives. Furthermore, the results suggest that strategic orientation is a contingency variable that clarifies the conditions in which closure- or brokerage-based embeddedness is appropriate. Specifically, scholars pursuing an entrepreneurial publication strategy are more productive when their relational embeddedness is consistent with the brokerage perspective of social capital creation, whereas scholars pursuing a focused publication strategy are more productive when their relational embeddedness is consistent with the closure perspective of social capital creation. The results have implications for both the IM scholar community and the social capital literature. Whether IM scholars are pursuing an entrepreneurial strategy that capitalizes on emergent knowledge across various theories and perspectives or pursuing a focused strategy by concentrating on gaining deep understanding of a specific stream of research, there are many avenues and opportunities for improving publication performance through the formation of new social capital. Finally, the empirical support for the contingency variable strategic orientation is consistent with recent speculation that both perspectives are important and suggests that future work should focus on further identification and clarification of contingency factors associated with them.