Seminar “Binoculars and Blinders” Feb 21, 2013

“Binoculars and Blinders”
21 February, 15:30-17:00

Dear colleagues,

we would like to invite you to this year’s first seminar of the network group on Thursday 21 February 15.30 (Z-305).



We are happy to welcome Antoine Vernet from Imperial College, London, to present his work on social networks and open innovation. For details, see cv and abstract below. After the seminar, there will be ample opportunity for social networking during drinks and snacks!

On behalf of the network group,
Dirk Deichmann
Christine Moser

Binoculars And Blinders:
The effect of closure and brokerage on the anticipation of trends and breakthroughs in open innovation communities

Antoine Vernet*, Martin Kilduff^ and Ammon Salter*
*Imperial College London
^University College London

Why are some people able to anticipate the future direction of a community, spotting trends and breakthroughs? Building on network theory, we investigate how structural positions – individual-level closure and project-level brokerage – enable individuals to identify and realize new opportunities in fluid, dynamic technical communities. Using the context of open source software projects, we argue – and empirically demonstrate – that closure enables individuals to anticipate which projects capture the attention of the community, leading to their eventual release. However, we suggest that individuals who connect disconnected projects are in a better position to identify those initiatives that later become innovations. We show that the benefits of these structural positions are moderated by the munificence and small-worldliness of the fields in which these individuals are active. We find that in munificent fields the effect of closure is weakened, whereas the effect of brokerage is heightened. In turn, field-level small-worldliness weakens both the effects of closure and brokerage. We explore the implications of these findings for community-based organizing, opportunity identification and network theory.


Antoine Vernet
UK-IRC Research Associate
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 1864

I received my PhD in Sociology from Université Paris-Ouest Nanterre La Défense in December 2010. I joined the Innovation and Entrepreneurship group of Imperial College Business School as a research associate in November 2010. I am also a research fellow of the UK~IRC (Innovation Research Centre), a joint venture between Imperial College Business School and the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge; as well as a research associate of the Centre for Business Research, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. I currently work on a project on innovation and online communities in collaboration with Professor Ammon Salter (Imperial) and Professor Martin Kilduff (UCL). This project focuses on how collaboration networks (such as affiliation or communication networks) enable innovation, looking particularly at an online software development platform (SourceForge) and the developers who interact on it.
Prior to joining Imperial College Business School, my work focused on collaboration networks and the careers of technicians in the motion-picture industry. I showed how, in the absence of durable employment, people have to build professional networks to provide them with information and opportunities. Those networks are essential to enhance one’s ability to survive and progress in a very fluid labour market. A second theme of my PhD research was examining how labour markets are reshaped by the introduction of new roles. I showed that changing the relational dynamic of the market changes which strategies are generally successful for individuals.