The language and social behavior of innovators

A. Fronzetti Colladon, L. Toschi, E. Ughetto, F. Greco

Innovators are creative people who can conjure the ground-breaking ideas that represent the main engine of innovative organizations. Past research has extensively investigated who innovators are and how they behave in work-related activities. In this paper, we suggest that it is necessary to analyze how innovators behave in other contexts, such as in informal communication spaces, where knowledge is shared without formal structure, rules, and work obligations. Drawing on communication and network theory, we analyze about 38,000 posts available in the intranet forum of a large multinational company. From this, we explain how innovators differ from other employees in terms of social network behavior and language characteristics. Through text mining, we find that innovators write more, use a more complex language, introduce new concepts/ideas, and use positive but factual-based language. Understanding how innovators behave and communicate can support the decision-making processes of managers who want to foster innovation.

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