Knowledge recombination and technological innovation: the important role of cross-disciplinary knowledge

Igam M. Moaniba, Hsin-Ning Su*, Pei Chun Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Literature on innovation strategy has increasingly highlighted the vital role of cross-disciplinary knowledge in the development of important inventions. However, a number of recent studies have shown contradicting results. For this reason, this study aims to explore deeper into the concept through the use of an extended citation analytical approach and a broader data-set of patents granted by US Patent and Trademark Office from 1976 to 2016. Taking patent forward citation count as a proxy for how technologically important an invention is, the study finds a strong positive relationship between cross-disciplinary knowledge and the technological value of an invention. In particular, cross-disciplinary knowledge, acquired through a recombination of prior technological knowledge from more diverse International Patent Classification (IPC) sections, tends to have the highest positive impact on patent value compared with knowledge sourced from more diverse IPC classes or subclasses. The empirical findings of this study provide new evidence that important inventions involve recombination of technologically diverse knowledge. Based on this finding, certain policy and management implications are presented and discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-352
Number of pages27
JournalInnovation: Management, Policy and Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2018


  • Cross-disciplinary knowledge
  • invention
  • knowledge flow
  • knowledge recombination
  • patent value

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