No organisation, no matter how large, can remain totally reliant on the stocks of new knowledge it
generates itself. In order to keep abreast of the latest scientific and technological developments, R&D
organisations must continuously import knowledge from beyond the organisations boundaries. How
does this external knowledge which is critical to success then become absorbed and integrated into the
firm? Our paper addresses this question through the lens of the influential technological gatekeeper
theory. Drawing on social network analysis (SNA) and interview evidence from a medical devices
R&D group, we find that the gatekeeper role is still vital, but no longer needs to be performed by a
single individual. Instead, the modern R&D group can keep abreast of the latest technological
advances through a combination of Web-enabled internal and external communication specialists. A
unique contribution this paper makes to the IT-enable social network literature is the development of
an updated conceptual framework of how the gatekeeper role is performed in the modern R&D group.
Whelan, E.; Donnellan, Brian; Teigland, Robin; and Golden, William, "Social capital in distributed system development: A case of grid development in particle physics" (2009). ECIS 2009 Proceedings. 87.