Innovation through boundary spanners versus leaders with high centrality

Boundary spanners may be good resources for innovation, because they have access to different networks and are able to connect many people and ideas or concepts, but they do not necessary provide adequate leadership and tools to manage the communities or networks themselves. This is essential in strategic innovation – both the boundary spanners and the (highly central) community leaders have similar qualities, yet their position in the network and their interest and leadership is quite different.

Lindsey McDougle in her blog “Leadership as a field of study” sees that shifting from highly central people in networks to boundary spanners may seem a good idea (from cost perspective, she argues) yet part of the knowledge dissapeared in the network. On the mid to long term, the cost benefit probably does not outweigh the implications for the networks. Mapping networks before these actions are taken are always recommended, to make sure that the sustainability of the networks prevails and the knowledge is not lost

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