Imperial College London

DrAnneter Wal

Business School

Associate Professor of Technology & Innovation Management



+44 (0)20 7594 1460a.terwal Website CV




272Business School BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Publication Type

25 results found

McEvily B, ter Wal A, 2023, Harness your network to unlock innovation, Harvard Business Review, Vol: 101, ISSN: 0017-8012

Why do so many big companies get poor returns on all the money they invest in innovation? A large body of research suggests that it’s because their managers tend to think novel ideas are “deviant” and resist them. As a result such ideas get watered down to make them less threatening—or get squashed altogether.The solution, the authors’ studies show, is to inspire, support, and protect innovation by tapping into your networks. Three practices are especially useful. First, find and mobilize external innovation catalysts who are adept at synthesizing diverse perspectives and identifying creative solutions. Second, engage with internal sparring partners who can highlight potential objections and help fuse ideas with your company’s mission and turn them into compelling business propositions. Third, selectively sequence the introduction of those ideas within your social circles in the company to stress-test and gradually gain buy-in for them.While there’s nothing inherently magical about these practices, if you follow them, you’ll find that innovating in a large, mature company is not only viable but highly promising.

Journal article

Gerges-Yammine R, ter Wal A, 2023, Firm exit from open multiparty alliances: The role of social influence, uncertainty, and interfirm imitation in collective technology development, Research Policy, Vol: 52, ISSN: 0048-7333

This study examines exit dynamics in open multiparty alliances, an important form of interfirm collaboration that includes committee-based standard-setting organizations, research and technology consortia, and other types of open meta-organizations. Open multiparty alliances differ markedly from more commonly studied dyadic alliances and closed multiparty alliances due to the open nature of membership and the broad diversity of firms that collaborate towards shaping the trajectory of emerging technologies in a sector. Drawing from literature on interfirm imitation, we posit that under conditions of elevated uncertainty about the technologies under development and the ability of diverse alliance members to work together effectively, firms are subject to social influence from their industry peers and thus tend to imitate them in exiting open multiparty alliances. However, we also argue that firms that are central in the wider network of alliances have access to superior information on sector developments as well as key resources that immunize them from such social influence effects. Analyses of the exit dynamics of the nine most influential open multiparty alliances that shaped the global mobile phone sector between 2000 and 2012 support our predictions. Our findings contribute to research on interfirm collaboration in technology-intensive contexts, in particular on open collaboration between multiple partners.

Journal article

ter Wal A, Criscuolo P, Salter A, 2023, Inside-out, outside-in, or all-in-one? The role of network sequencing in the elaboration of ideas, Academy of Management Journal, Vol: 66, ISSN: 0001-4273

The structure of advice and support networks within organizations has a profound impact on the elaboration of novel ideas. We explore how the sequence in which individuals expose ideas to their network contacts affects their innovation performance. We argue that, during idea elaboration, inside-out network sequencing – that is, mobilizing input and support from inner-circle ties before outer-circle ones – yields an innovation performance advantage over outside-in network sequencing and all-in-one mobilization of network contacts. Inside-out network sequencing generates valuable early feedback and support from inner-circle ties that actively engage with ill-defined, ill-structured and uncertain ideas, and delays exposure to outer-circle ties until ideas can better withstand criticism from beyond the social circle where they emerged. We further contend that the benefits of inside-out network sequencing are amplified in environments that lack support for innovation. Using an analysis of survey data and archival innovation performance records for 301 R&D scientists and engineers in a large multinational firm, we find support for our predictions.

Journal article

Hofer M, Criscuolo P, Shah N, ter Wal A, Barlow Jet al., 2022, Regulatory policy and pharmaceutical innovation in the United Kingdom after Brexit: initial insights, Frontiers in Medicine, Vol: 9, ISSN: 2296-858X

Brexit was presented as an opportunity to promote innovation by breaking free from the European Union regulatory framework. Since the beginning of 2021 the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has operated as the independent regulatory agency for the United Kingdom. The MHRA's regulatory activity in 2021 was analyzed and compared to that of other international regulatory bodies. The MHRA remained reliant on EU regulatory decision-making for novel medicines and there were significant regulatory delays for a small number of novel medicines in the UK, the reasons being so far unclear. In addition, the MHRA introduced innovation initiatives, which show early promise for quicker authorization of innovative medicines for cancer and other areas of unmet need. Longer-term observation and analysis is needed to show the full impact of post-Brexit pharmaceutical regulatory policy.

Journal article

Morando DM, Breschi S, ter Wal A, 2022, Showcasing strategies in entrepreneurs' quest for venture capital funding: evidence from Twitter, Academy of Management, Publisher: Academy of Management, ISSN: 2151-6561

It is widely established that entrepreneurs’ social capital is a valuable asset in their search for external funding. However, relatively less is known about how entrepreneurs can actively engage in networking strategies to improve, or exploit, their social capital to attract investment. In this study, we examine two such strategies – showcasing visibility and showcasing similarity – and assess their effect on entrepreneurial ventures’ ability to obtain a first round of funding. We argue that showcasing visibility behavior increases a venture’s salience among prospective investors, whilst showcasing similarity vis-à-vis high-status role-model entrepreneurs facilitates legitimacy. Based on a comprehensive dataset of London-based technology entrepreneurs combining Crunchbase and Twitter data, we find that showcasing visibility and similarity strategies increase the likelihood of obtaining venture capital funding, particularly for entrepreneurs with a peripheral position in the informal network of London’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Conference paper

ter Wal A, Criscuolo P, McEvily B, Salter Aet al., 2020, Dual networking: how collaborators network in their quest for innovation, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol: 65, Pages: 887-930, ISSN: 0001-8392

Organizations typically employ a division of labor between specialist creator roles and generalist business roles in a bid to orchestrate innovation. This paperseeksto determine the extent to which individuals dividing the work across roles canalso benefit from dividing their network.We argue that collaborating individuals benefit from connecting to the same groups but different individuals—an approach we label dual networking—rather than from a pure divide-and-conquer approach. To test this argument, weexploit a unique feature of a dual career-ladder setting in a large multinational where R&D managers and technologists partner up in their quest forinnovation. We propose—and find—thatcollaborators who engage in dual networkingattain an innovationperformance advantage over those who connect to distinctgroups. This advantage stems from the opportunity to engage in dual interpretation and dual influencing, leading to more effective elaboration and championing of innovative ideas. In demonstrating these effects, the paper advances understanding of how collaborators organize their networking activities to best achieve innovative outcomes.

Journal article

Ter Wal ALJ, Criscuolo P, McEvily B, Salter Aet al., 2018, The relative value of the division versus duplication of network ties for innovation performance, Academy of Management Proceedings, Publisher: Academy of Management

Exploiting a unique setting of R&D technologists and managers in a large multinational who are “partnered-up” in their pursuit of innovation, this paper explores under what circumstances technologists and managers benefit from duplicating network ties to the same groups in the organization as their partner, or from dividing the network with their partner by each interacting with different groups. Introducing the concept of network duplication – the extent to which two individuals are tied to the same functional groups inside an organization – this paper aims to build and test a theory of the division versus duplication of networks. It advances our understanding of second-order social capital and its role in the interpretation and influencing aspects of the innovation process by shedding light on how network duplication affects technologists’ and managers’ innovation performance. It finds that the merits of a division versus duplication-of- networks approach are contingent on the mutual interdependence of managers and technologists.

Conference paper

ter Wal ALJ, Criscuolo P, Salter A, 2017, Making a marriage of materials: The role of gatekeepers and shepherds in the absorption of external knowledge and innovation performance, Research Policy, Vol: 46, Pages: 1039-1054, ISSN: 0048-7333

Through interviews and a large-scale survey of R&D scientists and engineers, this paper explores individuals’ attempts to absorb external knowledge, focusing on their efforts to identify and assimilate external knowledge and promote its utilization. Extant research does not explicitly address whether individuals should better specialize in certain absorption efforts or rather work as generalists dedicated to a range of efforts. We suggest that assimilation efforts increase the value of individuals’ efforts at external search and at promoting the utilization of external knowledge, which culminates in two main absorption roles that can help individuals achieve greater innovation performance. We argue that gatekeepers who combine external search with assimilation effort help to achieve innovation by contributing to building potential absorptive capacity, while shepherds who combine assimilation with utilization effort aid innovation by building realized absorptive capacity. We find support for these predictions and discuss the implications for research and managerial practice in open innovation.

Journal article

Bogers M, Zobel A-K, Afuah A, Almirall E, Brunswicker S, Dahlander L, Frederiksen L, Gawer A, Gruber M, Haefliger S, Hagedoorn J, Hilgers D, Laursen K, Magnusson MG, Majchrzak A, McCarthy IP, Moeslein KM, Nambisan S, Piller FT, Radziwon A, Rossi-Lamastra C, Sims J, ter Wal ALJet al., 2016, The open innovation research landscape: established perspectives and emerging themes across different levels of analysis, Industry and Innovation, Vol: 24, Pages: 8-40, ISSN: 1469-8390

This paper provides an overview of the main perspectives and themes emerging in research on open innovation (OI). The paper is the result of a collaborative process among several OI scholars – having a common basis in the recurrent Professional Development Workshop on ‘Researching Open Innovation’ at the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management. In this paper, we present opportunities for future research on OI, organised at different levels of analysis. We discuss some of the contingencies at these different levels, and argue that future research needs to study OI – originally an organisational-level phenomenon – across multiple levels of analysis. While our integrative framework allows comparing, contrasting and integrating various perspectives at different levels of analysis, further theorising will be needed to advance OI research. On this basis, we propose some new research categories as well as questions for future research – particularly those that span across research domains that have so far developed in isolation.

Journal article

ter Wal ALJ, Alexy O, Block JH, Sandner Pet al., 2016, The best of both worlds: The benefits of open-specialized and open-diverse syndication networks for new venture success, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol: 61, Pages: 393-432, ISSN: 1930-3815

Open networks give actors non-redundant information that is diverse, while closed networks offer redundant information that is easier to interpret. Integrating arguments about network structure and the similarity of actors’ knowledge, we propose two types of network configurations that combine diversity and ease of interpretation. Closed-diverse networks offer diversity in actors’ knowledge domains and shared third-party ties to help in interpreting that knowledge. In open-specialized networks, structural holes offer diversity, while shared interpretive schema and overlap between received information and actors’ prior knowledge help in interpreting new information without the help of third parties. In contrast, actors in open-diverse networks suffer from information overload due to the lack of shared schema or overlapping prior knowledge for the interpretation of diverse information, and actors in closed-specialized networks suffer from overembeddedness because they cannot access diverse information. Using CrunchBase data on early-stage venture capital investments in the U.S. information technology sector, we test the effect of investors’ social capital on the success of their portfolio ventures. We find that ventures have the highest chances of success if their syndicating investors have either open-specialized or closed-diverse networks. These effects are manifested beyond the direct effects of ventures’ or investors’ quality and are robust to controlling for the possibility that certain investors could have chosen more promising ventures at the time of first funding.

Journal article

Hardeman S, Frenken K, Nomaler O, Ter Wal ALJet al., 2015, Characterizing and comparing innovation systems by different 'modes' of knowledge production: A proximity approach, Science and Public Policy, Vol: 42, Pages: 530-548, ISSN: 1471-5430

Though the concept of innovation systems has become influential in both academia and policy-making, an analytical approach to understanding innovation systems is still lacking. In particular, there is no analytical framework to measure ‘Mode 1’ and ‘Mode 2’ knowledge production. We propose a framework based on the proximity concept. Mode 1 and Mode 2 knowledge production are characterized by collaborations with cognitive, organizational, social, institutional and geographical proximity, and distance, respectively. Using a gravity model approach we apply our framework to the case of type 2 diabetes research and provide a characterization of the global innovation system and a comparative analysis of the North American and European innovation systems. Our main results hold that although collaborative research on type 2 diabetes generally follows a logic of proximity and hence is not characterized as Mode 2, important differences and similarities exist between the North American and European innovation systems.

Journal article

Salter A, Ter Wal AJL, Criscuolo P, Alexy Oet al., 2015, Open for ideation: Individual-level openness and idea generation in R&D, The Journal of Product Innovation Management, Vol: 32, Pages: 488-504, ISSN: 0737-6782

Organizations are increasingly encouraging their scientists and engineers to source knowledge externally. However, it is unclear how the openness of individuals to external sources of knowledge affects their ideation performance, that is, their ability to develop new, useful innovative ideas for their organization, and which factors might moderate this process. Drawing on theories of combinatorial search, and using a sample of 329 R&D scientists and engineers working in a large organization, we demonstrate that individuals' openness to external sources of knowledge is curvilinearly related to their ideation performance. Openness provides benefits such as alertness and variety which contribute to ideation up to the point where increasing integration and approval costs cause negative returns to set in. We also examine how the R&D time horizon, ties to senior managers, and the breadth of individual knowledge moderate the costs and benefits of openness to individuals. We explore the implications of these findings for managerial practice.

Journal article

Salter A, Criscuolo P, Ter Wal ALJ, 2014, Coping with Open Innovation: Responding to the Challenges of External Engagement in R&D, California Management Review, Vol: 56, Pages: 77-94, ISSN: 0008-1256

Open innovation often requires wholesale changes to the nature of R&D. However, academic research and managerial practice have paid little attention to the challenges that individuals face in the daily pursuit of open innovation. As a result, there is little understanding of how individuals cope with open innovation, and which organizational practices can support them in this role. Drawing on the experiences of R&D professionals, this article identifies four specific challenges and coping strategies of individuals engaged in open innovation. It proposes a range of open innovation practices that organizations can implement to better equip their staff to undertake effective external engagement.

Journal article

Criscuolo P, Salter A, Ter Wal A, 2014, Going underground: Bootlegging and individual innovative performance, Organization Science, Vol: 25, Pages: 1287-1305, ISSN: 1047-7039

To develop innovations in large, mature organizations, individuals often have to resort to underground, “bootleg” research and development (R&D) activities that have no formal organizational support. In doing so, these individuals attempt to achieve greater autonomy over the direction of their R&D efforts and to escape the constraints of organizational accountability. Drawing on theories of proactive creativity and innovation, we argue that these underground R&D efforts help individuals to develop innovations based on the exploration of uncharted territory and delayed assessment of embryonic ideas. After carefully assessing the direction of causality, we find that individuals’ bootleg efforts are associated with achievement of high levels of innovative performance. Furthermore, we show that the costs and benefits of bootlegging for innovation are contingent on the emphasis on the enforcement of organizational norms in the individual’s work environment; we argue and demonstrate empirically that the benefits of an individual’s bootlegging efforts are enhanced in work units with high levels of innovative performance and which include members who are also engaged in bootlegging. However, during periods of organizational change involving formalization of the R&D process, individuals who increase their bootlegging activities are less likely to innovate. We explore the implications of these findings for our understanding of proactive and deviant creativity.

Journal article

Ter Wal ALJ, 2014, The dynamics of the inventor network in German biotechnology: geographic proximity versus triadic closure, Journal of Economic Geography, Vol: 14, Pages: 589-620, ISSN: 1468-2702

Economic geography has developed a stronghold analyzing how geography impacts innovation. Yet, despite increased interest in networks, a critical assessment of the role of geography in the evolution of networks is still lacking. This article attempts to explore the interplay between geographic distance and triadic closure as two main forces that drive the evolution of collaboration networks. Analyzing the evolution of inventor networks in German biotechnology, the article theoretically argues and empirically demonstrates that—as the technological regime of an industry changes over time—inventors increasingly rely on network resources by forming links to partners of partners, while the direct impact of geographic distance on tie formation decreases. Although initially triadic closure reinforces the geographic distance effect by closing triads among proximate inventors, over time triadic closure becomes an increasingly powerful vehicle to generate longer distance collaboration ties as the effect of geographic proximity decreases.

Journal article

Ter Wal ALJ, 2013, Cluster emergence and network evolution: a longitudinal analysis of the inventor network in Sophia-Antipolis, Regional Studies, Vol: 47, Pages: 651-668

It is increasingly acknowledged that clusters do not necessarily exhibit networks of local collective learning. Through a case-study of Sophia-Antipolis this study investigates to what extent networks of collective learning emerged throughout the growth of the business park. A longitudinal analysis of the inventor networks of its two main sectors reveals that a local network of collective learning emerged only in Information Technology and not in Life Sciences. Through the creation of spin-offs and high-tech start-up firms the initial dominance of large multinationals decreased only in Information Technology. This suggests that small firms play an important role in establishing local networks.

Journal article

Cassi L, Morrison A, Ter Wal ALJ, 2012, The evolution of trade and scientific collaboration networks in the global wine sector, Economic Geography, Vol: 88, Pages: 311-334

Throughout the last three decades the global pattern of wine production has undergone fundamental change, most notably the emergence of New World producers. This study provides a detailed account of the sector’s changing global organization by applying network analysis methods to the evolution of international trade and scientific collaboration networks. We argue that there is a strong mutual interdependence of trade and scientific knowledge production, as a result of which we expect the geographical configuration of global knowledge and trade networks to co-evolve. Our results show that over time only a few New World wine producers have developed trade and scientific collaboration networks that resemble those of traditional Old World producers. We also find that structures of trade and scientific collaboration networks are more alike for Old World than for New World producers, which suggests that – contrary to our expectations – it is particularly Old World producers who may have mainly benefitted from participation in international scientific collaboration.

Journal article

Alexy OT, Block JH, Sandner P, Ter Wal ALJet al., 2012, Social capital of venture capitalists and start-up funding, Small Business Economics, Vol: 39, Pages: 835-851, ISSN: 0921-898X

How does the social capital of venture capitalists (VCs) affect the funding of start-ups? By building on the rich social capital literature, we hypothesize a positive effect of VCs' social capital, derived from past syndication, on the amount of money that start-ups receive. Specifically, we argue that both structural and relational aspects of VCs' social networks provide VCs with superior access to information about current investment objects and opportunities to leverage them in the future, increasing their willingness to invest in these firms. Our empirical results, derived from a novel dataset containing more than 1,500 first funding rounds in the Internet and IT sector, strongly confirm our hypotheses. We discuss the implications of our findings for theories of venture capital and entrepreneurship, showing that the role and effect of VCs' social capital on start-up firms may be more complex than previously argued in the literature.

Journal article

Ter Wal ALJ, 2011, Networks and geography in the economics of knowledge flows: a commentary, Quality and Quantity: international journal of methodology, Vol: 45, Pages: 1059-1063, ISSN: 0033-5177

In the paper "Networks and geography in the economics of knowledge flows" Maggioni and Uberti provide a rich and detailed overview of the current state-of-art and future challenges of the analysis of knowledge flows in economics. Maggioni and Uberti illustrate how geographical factors and network factors can explain spatial patterns of knowledge flows. This commentary portrays where the type of studies discussed by the authors fit in the wider literature on geography, networks and knowledge flows. Second, the commentary discusses the suggestions of future research the authors describe and proposes some further avenues for future research that are in line with those suggested by the authors. In particular, it zooms in onto the role of comparative statics in studies of network dynamics, stochastic estimation models of network evolution and content-based network analysis in pushing the frontier of research on networks, geography and knowledge flows.

Journal article

Ter Wal ALJ, Boschma RA, 2011, Co-evolution of firms, industries and networks in space, Regional Studies, Vol: 45, Pages: 919-933

The cluster literature suffers from a number of shortcomings: (1) by and large, cluster studies do not take into account that firms in a cluster are heterogeneous in terms of capabilities; (2) cluster studies tend to overemphasize the importance of place and geographical proximity and underestimate the role of networks which are, by definition, a-spatial entities; (3) most, if not all cluster studies have a static nature, and do not address questions like the origins and evolution of clusters. Our aim is to overcome these shortcomings and propose a theoretical framework on the evolution of clusters. Bringing together bodies of literature on clusters, industrial dynamics, the evolutionary theory of the firm and network theory, we describe how clusters co-evolve with: (1) the industry they adhere to; (2) the (dynamic) capabilities of the firms they contain; and (3) the industry-wide knowledge network they are part of. Based on this framework, we believe the analysis of cluster evolution provides a promising research agenda in evolutionary economic geography for the years to come.

Journal article

Ter Wal ALJ, 2010, The dynamics of the inventor network in German biotechnology: Geographical proximity versus triadic closure

This paper intends to contribute to the growing literature on network dynamics by critically assessing the spatial component in the dynamic analysis of networks. The paper juxtaposes geographical proximity and triadic closure ' i.e. the formation of closed triangles ' as two alternative mechanisms in the evolution of networks. It argues that the role of both mechanisms is subject to change over time as the technological regime of an industry changes. More precisely, the paper proposes that geographical proximity between inventors is mostly relevant for tie formation in the early stage of the industry, when knowledge is predominantly tacit. By contrast, the closed triangles as produced by triadic closure act as vehicles of trust gaining relevance once the industry gets more established, with higher levels of knowledge codification and the associated risk of unintended and costly knowledge leakages. These trends are empirically tested taking biotechnology in Germany as an example of an evolving, spatially agglomerated knowledge-intensive industry. On the basis of a patent-based reconstruction of the inventor network and a stochastic estimation model of network evolution, the study confirms that geographical proximity becomes less important and triadic closure more important over time as a determinant of tie formation.

Conference paper

Cantner U, Meder A, Ter Wal ALJ, 2010, Innovator networks and regional knowledge base, Technovation, Vol: 30, Pages: 496-507

Although network analysis has gained increasing attention over the last years, the literature on Regional Innovation Systems thus far has not embraced network methods. This study is an attempt to enrich the Regional Innovation System concept by applying social network methods to quantitatively assess the extent to which innovating actors in a region engage in systemic forms of knowledge exchange and collaboration. On the basis of a comparison of three rather different regional innovator networks, the paper suggests that regions with a strong knowledge base that are specialized in broad technology fields tend to have relatively fragmented network structures.

Journal article

Ter Wal A, 2009, The structure and dynamics of knowledge networks: a proximity approach, Publisher: PhD thesis, ISBN: 978-90-6266-268-5


Ter Wal ALJ, Boschma RA, 2009, Applying social network analysis in economic geography: framing some key analytic issues, Annals of Regional Science, Vol: 43, Pages: 739-756

Social network analysis attracts increasing attention in economic geography. We claim social network analysis is a promising tool for empirically investigating the structure and evolution of inter-organizational interaction and knowledge flows within and across regions. However, the potential of the application of network methodology to regional issues is far from exhausted. The aim of our paper is twofold. The first objective is to shed light on the untapped potential of social network analysis techniques in economic geography: we set out some theoretical challenges concerning the static and dynamic analysis of networks in geography. Basically, we claim that network analysis has a huge potential to enrich the literature on clusters, regional innovation systems and knowledge spillovers. The second objective is to describe how these challenges can be met through the application of network analysis techniques, using primary (survey) and secondary (patent) data. We argue that the choice between these two types of data has strong implications for the type of research questions that can be dealt with in economic geography, such as the feasibility of dynamic network analysis.

Journal article

Boschma RA, Ter Wal ALJ, 2007, Knowledge networks and innovative performance in an industrial district: the case of a footwear district in the South of Italy, Industry and Innovation, Vol: 14, Pages: 177-199

The traditional district literature tends to assume that: (1) the competitiveness of firms depends on external sources of knowledge; (2) all firms in a district benefit from knowledge externalities; (3) relying on external knowledge relationships necessarily means these are confined to the district area. Our case study of the Barletta footwear district in the South of Italy suggests otherwise. Based on social network analysis, we demonstrate that the local knowledge network is quite weak and unevenly distributed among the local firms. A strong local network position of a firm tended to increase their innovative performance, and so did their connectivity to extra-local firms. So, it mattered being connected either locally or non-locally: being co-located was surely not enough. Having a high absorptive capacity seemed to raise only indirectly, through non-local relationships, the innovative performance of firms.

Journal article

This data is extracted from the Web of Science and reproduced under a licence from Thomson Reuters. You may not copy or re-distribute this data in whole or in part without the written consent of the Science business of Thomson Reuters.

Request URL: Request URI: /respub/WEB-INF/jsp/search-html.jsp Query String: respub-action=search.html&id=00614035&limit=30&person=true