Knowledge Diffusion and Flow in Semiconductor Industry

Melissa Appleyard

Darden School
University of Virginia


(Appleyard, M. M. 1996. How Does Knowledge Flow? Interfirm Patterns in the Semiconductor Industry. Strategic Management Journal , no. 17: 137-154.)

Although knowledge spillovers between firms play a critical role in the evolution of technology, little is known about such spillovers. By examining knowledge sharing patterns in the semiconductor industry, a study seeks to answer the questions of: 1. how knowledge flows across company boundaries, 2. how industry characteristics and national institutions shape knowledge diffusion, and 3. to what extent companies direct knowledge flows. The research shows that public sources of technical data play a larger role in knowledge diffusion in Japan than in the US and in semiconductors relative to steel. By understanding the mechanisms and determinants of knowledge flows, company managers and public policy makers can influence knowledge diffusion more effectively.

(Appleyard, M. M. and G. A. Kalsow.1999. Knowledge Diffusion in the Semiconductor Industry. Journal of Knowledge Management 3, no. 4: 288-295.)

Considers firms' management of knowledge creation, diffusion and implementation. In particular, examines the diffusion link in this chain and presents a new framework where an ocean of ideas flows much like an ocean current. Through its past innovative activity and its employees' professional experiences, a firm is caught up in a ``technology current''. The degree of knowledge diffusion across organizations depends on encouraging and thwarting this current's forces. The framework suggests that the ease of knowledge diffusion depends on the degree of similarity in organizations' technical prowess. As an example, knowledge flows in the semiconductor industry are examined through citations to Intel's journal articles. The empirical findings show that Intel's knowledge, codified in these articles, diffuses more quickly to organizations in Western Europe and Japan than those in Taiwan and Korea. This pattern coincides with geographic market leadership and suggests that knowledge networks exist across countries.

To appear in "Strategic Management of Intellectual Capital and Organizational Knowledge" edited by Nick Bontis & Chun Wei Choo (Oxford University Press).