The ties that bind: How boundary spanners create value in science-based SMEs

Steven Pattinson*, Patrick Dawson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


How do boundary spanners, through processes of temporal sensemaking, use established and newly forming relationships to create value in science-based SMEs? In addressing this question, we examine the creation of social capital arising from the activities that boundary spanners use in establishing ‘ties that bind’ people together. We show how effective boundary-spanning activities are able to promote collaborations across scientific and related disciplines, supporting knowledge generation and innovation. Sensemaking is central to this process. We illustrate how retrospective sensemaking draws on knowledge, skills and experiences, often triggered through historical connections and personal contacts, whilst prospective sensemaking often arose in the search for new customers and in the ongoing assessment of future potential markets. We reveal how combining individual and collective boundary spanning with a continual movement between the backward glance (retrospective) and more future-oriented (prospective) sensemaking was particularly effective in generating new understandings and opportunities. We use our findings to present an inductive model of value creation that frames the dynamic interplay between individual and collective boundary-spanning activities and temporal sensemaking in the generation of social capital that acts as a knowledge resource for identifying and evaluating ideas for innovation and future pathways to value creation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)464-486
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Issue number1
Early online date25 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

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