- Entrepreneurship, Strategy and Innovation
- Knowledge management under incomplete information
- Technology strategy, novelty, and competitive advantage
- Inductive methods that identify new metrics and artifacts for statistical analysis
My research examines how entrepreneurship and innovation are influenced by three important factors (a) problems of novel information, (b) problems of uncertain property rights, and (c) problems of knowledge accumulation. My work is motivated by my interest in how novel knowledge and resources are shared and assessed under conditions of high uncertainty. This research aims towards achieving a better ex ante understanding of breakthroughs, entrepreneurial opportunities and development.
Problems of Novel Information
The entrepreneurial creation of new relationships, organizations and markets is driven by the evaluation of information that is incomplete, asymmetric, and uncertain. In practice, entrepreneurs share and assess ex-ante, "beforehand", information. Yet the theories used in the entrepreneurship literature predominantly employ ex-post, "after the fact", logics. In my dissertation I used an ex ante logic to examine why entrepreneurs share information, how the sources of information are evaluated, and how the quality of information is assessed. I argue that entrepreneurs share information to form private entrepreneurial knowledge about complementary asset combinations (Briggs, 2008,FER). These novel complementary asset combinations maintain appropriability conditions and ameliorate hazards of information sharing. Second, I show that entrepreneurial discoveries have a unique informational basis, grounded in artifacts and relationships, which allows dissimilar actors to similarly assess multiple and emergent sources of information. A third area addresses how entrepreneurs minimize the vulnerabilities of using information by relying of different types of trust over the period of relationship assessment and selection.
I am currently developing two additional research projects in this area. Using video and expert data on three years of elevator pitches at MIT (Balachandra and Briggs, BCERC presentation), we examine how differences in information sharing affect the entrepreneur's ability to attract early resources. Second, I am exploring the role of selective learning, an ecological learning model, in the evaluation of novelty and development of entrepreneurial knowledge. (Briggs, BCERC presentation).
Problems of Uncertain Property Rights
In my research I take a relational view of knowledge where the problems of novelty are function of the information, but also of differences in the interests of the actors. While I explore this view in some of my entrepreneurship work, my attention to differences in interests is more explicit at organizational boundaries when examining questions of intellectual property and intellectual capital. I highlight two areas where I am pursuing this research interest. First, I have recently completed a 200 year historical study of interests and technological change in the US patent system (Carlile and Briggs, under review). Second, I am developing two datasets on problems of patenting and technology access strategies on organizational innovation outcomes.
Problems of Knowledge Accumulation
Overtime, investments in information result in knowledge accumulation. These accumulations occur at the level of the individual, organization or institution. Since joining the University of Alberta I have, with Jennifer Jennings, initiated a major project studying the impact of the University on its alumni, alumni founded firms, and institutions. While this project has a number of interesting avenues, broadly it seeks to better understand the role of the University and individual educational experiences on the social, environmental and cultural impacts of entrepreneurship and innovation.