By Phin Upham
Previous research in local and distant search suggests that new knowledge which is core to its school of thought is likely to be intellectually embedded within that school and have less impact outside of that school, and new knowledge located closer to the periphery of its school tends to more explicitly engage ideas meaningful both to its own field and to audiences beyond its field (McCain 1986, 1987). Even within a school, new knowledge that remains too close to the core ideas of a school and does not search for and use new ideas is less likely to have innovative impact (Meyer and Zucker 1989; Fleming 2001; Fleming and Sorenson 2001) and is thus less likely to influence others and be more highly cited by those within its school (Rosenkopf and Nerkar 2001). At the same time, knowledge too distant from the core might not reap as many of the benefits of membership. This would imply that the relationship between a position at the center and periphery of a school is curvilinear—that a position at the semi-periphery of a school, straddling more than one school or reaching beyond one’s school, would tend to draw the largest audience for new knowledge and receive the most overall citations. Such boundary-spanning research is more likely to draw fresh, interesting outside work into a school, which would potentially result in more impact (Fig. 2).