Purpose - This paper seeks to explore the processes and channels through which valuable knowledge from outside the firm reaches those employees who can exploit that knowledge for innovative purposes. It seeks to identify the specific talents exhibited by the key individuals involved in facilitating these important knowledge flows. It also aims to detail the interventions which management can adopt to harness knowledge flow talents.
Design/methodology/approach - The methodology used was a single case study of a medical devices R&D group, incorporating social network analysis and semi-structured interviews.
Findings - It was found that it is now rare for a single individual to possess all the talents necessary to effectively acquire and disseminate external knowledge. Owing to the prevalence of information and communication technologies, a small number of uniquely skilled individuals specialize in acquiring valuable external knowledge, while an altogether different set of individuals specialize in disseminating that knowledge internally
Originality/value - There is a dearth of literature in the knowledge management field directed towards understanding how the unique talents of those employees who are integral components of knowledge networks can be harnessed. Building on concepts of talent management and the technological gatekeeper, the specific talents exhibited by these individuals are explored. Then some organizational level interventions are pointed up, which can facilitate knowledge-intensive organizations in fully exploiting their resources to maximize innovative capabilities.