Dr David Obstfeld, California State University
In contrast to previous research that emphasised macro-to-macro relationships, this study investigates how strategic decision characteristics shape the creative process at the organisational micro-level. Whereas individual creativity thrives on novel combinations of diverse knowledge and perspectives, we argue that the characteristics of strategic decisions influence the extent to which employees’ combinatory activities enhance their creativity. Multilevel modeling results based on 638 employees from 34 organisations show that the positive relationship between tertius iungens (TI) orientation and creative performance is reinforced by strategic decision comprehensiveness, especially when coupled with low strategic decision speed. The results suggest that, paradoxically, when top managers consider a narrower range of options and act more quickly to respond to challenges in the external environment, they risk constraining creative processes within the organisation. Dr Obstfeld will discuss the findings from the above paper in the context of the core ideas of social network brokerage as explored in his new book with Stanford University Press: “Getting New Things Done: Networks, Brokerage, and the Assembly of Innovative Action.” Mobilising people to pursue action in the pursuit of innovation depends critically on the effective orchestration of social networks and knowledge sharing. This orchestration is vital to the pursuit of innovation, especially in a world increasingly reliant on collaborative projects that assemble actors with diverse interests, abilities, and knowledge. In the talk, Dr Obstfeld offers a conceptual framework along with brief original ethnographic data from an automotive design context for conceptualising how social network and knowledge processes combine to influence success in both routine and non-routine innovation. He integrates recent work to propose a theory of social skill with implications at the micro-, organisational-, and industry levels that speak directly to his Strategic Management Journal paper.
Article by Dr Olli-Pekka Kauppila, Dr Lorenzo Bizzi and Dr David Obstfeld, forthcoming in the Strategic Management Journal.
David Obstfeld is an Associate Professor of Management at the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at California State University, Fullerton. His research examines how social network and knowledge processes interact to produce different forms of innovation in organisations, entrepreneurship, and collective action. His research has been funded by multiple grants including the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Academy of Finland, and received the W. Richard Scott Award for Distinguished Scholarship for an outstanding contribution to the organisational discipline by an article published within a three-year period from the American Sociological Association. His book-length study, Getting New Things Done: Networks, Brokerage, and the Assembly of Innovative Action (Stanford University Press 2017), focuses on how brokers coordinate action for innovation and value creation in complex organisational contexts. His research has been published in leading management and the social science journals including Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, and Industrial and Corporate Change, and widely cited across a diverse range of disciplines. Before joining Mihaylo, David was a visiting faculty member at the Stern School of Business, New York University and the Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine. He received his AB from the University of Chicago and his PhD from the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. Prior to his academic career, he was an executive at the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) for 10 years.