How Do Prior Ties Affect Learning by Hiring? By: Tandon, Vivek; Ertug, Gokhan; Carnabuci, Gianluca. Journal of Management. Feb2020, Vol. 46 Issue 2, p287-320. 34p.

Research has shown that hiring R&D scientists from competitors fosters organizational learning. We examine whether hiring scientists who have many collaborative ties with the hiring firm prior to the mobility event produces different learning outcomes than hiring scientists who have few or no such ties. We theorize that prior ties reduce explorative learning and increase exploitative learning. Namely, we posit that prior ties lead the hiring firm to focus on that part of a new hire’s knowledge with which they are already familiar and that they help appropriate the new hire’s newly generated knowledge. At the same time, prior ties induce new hires to search locally within the hiring firm’s knowledge base and to produce more incremental, lower-impact innovations. Using data on R&D scientists’ mobility in the Electronics and Electrical Goods industry, we find broad support for our hypotheses. Our results extend our theoretical understanding of learning-by-hiring processes and bear practical managerial implications.