An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Knowledge Bridging and Bose's Suspension System

When I worked at Bose on a project, I was told by the employees there about this product which was an amazing improvement on the current technology! It seems the demos would involve placing a glass of water on the driver’s deck and the exercise was to take the car over the road bumps. The results were smashing! Amar Bose is, in any case, a genius!!

For nearly 25 years, engineers at Massachusetts-based Bose Corp., a famed maker of stereo speakers and other audio equipment, quietly toyed with a problem — improving automobile suspensions — that had nothing to do with sound.

Bose’s founder, Amar Bose, suspected that his company’s knowledge of the physics of acoustics could also help drivers defeat bumps and potholes. So in 2004, Bose introduced a startling new product — an automobile suspension that abandoned traditional liquid-filled shock absorbers in favor of high-voltage electrical coils and magnets. The suspension is ready for the mass market, and Bose is negotiating with carmakers about making it available commercially.

This article, however, is about knowledge bridging – where a company with a certain pool of knowledge and intellectual capital uses the basic foundation blocks to create innovations in another field – often unrelated. This is what the researchers – Hsu and Lim found out:

Identifying creative firms and understanding how they acquired knowledge was only the first step. Hsu and Lim then needed to figure out whether knowledge bridging gave firms a performance or financial edge. After all, in the corporate world, wide-ranging curiosity does little good if it doesn’t eventually yield cash.

After collecting and crunching their numbers, Hsu and Lim concluded that knowledge bridging does pay. The knowledge bridgers whom they identified were more likely to have a drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and more likely to raise money in an initial public offering than companies that didn’t bridge.

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