Positioning knowledge: schools of thought and new knowledge creation

Phineas Upham; Lori Rosenkopf, Management, The Wharton School; and Lyle Ungar, Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract: Cohesive intellectual communities called “schools of thought” can provide powerful benefits to those developing new knowledge, but can also constrain them. We examine how developers of new knowledge position themselves within and between schools of thought, and how this affects their impact. Looking at the micro and macro fields of management publications from 1956 to 2002 with an extensive dataset of 113,000+ articles from 41 top journals, we explore the dynamics of knowledge positioning for management scholars. We find that it is significantly beneficial for new knowledge to be a part of a school of thought, and that within a school of thought new knowledge has more impact if it is in the intellectual semi-periphery of the school.