The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Crossing Organizational Boundaries for Innovation: Probing Knowledge Transformation in the Context of Interorganizational Collaborative Strategy Process Development

Pauli Alin

Doctoral dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Faculty of Information and Natural Sciences for public examination and debate in Auditorium AS1 at the Aalto University School of Science and Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 21st of May 2010 at 12 noon.

Dissertation in PDF format (ISBN 978-952-60-3146-0)   [715 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-952-60-3145-3)


Interorganizational networks are replacing traditional hierarchical firms as locus of competition and innovation. In this dissertation research I argue that understanding innovation in networks requires understanding how situated knowledge is transformed at organizational boundaries. I also argue that neither the literature on interorganizational networks nor the literature on situated knowledge addresses explicitly how knowledge is transformed at boundaries between organizations.

To address this research gap, I draw from recent developments in practice theoretical knowledge management research and use a knowledge transformation theory framework to observe micro-level knowledge transformation processes at semantic and pragmatic organizational boundaries in the setting of interorganizational collaborative strategy process development. I find that knowledge transformation at the organizational boundary involves the sub-processes of initiation, negotiation, altering, creating new knowledge and validating knowledge. Based on qualitative case analysis, I describe these sub-processes in detail and propose a model of knowledge transformation at semantic and pragmatic organizational boundaries.

The model first suggests that at semantic organizational boundaries, knowledge is clarified and altered, but new knowledge is not created. The model also suggests that at pragmatic organizational boundaries, new knowledge is created through synthesizing existing represented knowledge. The model extends research on knowledge transformation toward settings where multiple boundaries are crossed. Finally, this dissertation research suggests that research on interorganizational networks and innovation should pay closer attention to knowledge creation and transformation – not just transfer – at boundaries between organizations.

Keywords: innovation, knowledge management, knowledge transformation, interorganizational networks

This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for Your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.

© 2010 Aalto University School of Science and Technology

Last update 2011-05-26