Enabling innovation: knowledge control, sharing and coordination boundaries in UK and German manufacturing

James H. Love, Stephen Roper

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


We investigate how boundaries in knowledge control, sharing and co-ordination influence UK and German manufacturing firms’ innovation intensity (an indicator of the volume of product change) and product life (an indicator of the pace of generational change). In general UK plants more commonly face knowledge control boundaries related to plant ownership or control, while German plants more commonly face boundaries related to knowledge sharing and knowledge co-ordination between functional groups. Our empirical results emphasise the importance of the strategic management of innovation. Knowledge control boundaries – related to external ownership, group membership and decision making autonomy – have a weak negative influence on plants’ innovation outcomes. Strategic decisions relating to multifunctional working and networking are found to be more important in overcoming knowledge sharing and co-ordination boundaries. Knowledge sharing boundaries, related to plant or company boundaries, prove most important where a plant has no in-house R&D capability. Knowledge co-ordination boundaries related to functional or multi-functional working have strong but differential effects on different innovation output measures: functional boundaries increase product life in both countries, and in Germany maintaining functional boundaries is also associated with increased innovation intensity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2003
EventInnovation in Europe: dynamics, institutions and values - Roskilde, Denmark
Duration: 8 May 20039 May 2003


ConferenceInnovation in Europe: dynamics, institutions and values
Abbreviated titleSEGERA


  • innovation
  • boundaries
  • UK
  • Germany
  • manufacturing


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