Engineering Serendipity: The Role of Cognitive Similarity in Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Production

Led by LISH postdoctoral fellow Jacqueline Lane, this research paper explores how serendipitous encounters affected and even fostered innovation and creativity among scientists. Taking 15,817 scientist pairs, LISH designed and executed a natural field experiment at a medical symposium. Researchers found that too much or too little intellectual similarity leads to few opportunities for sharing insight and knowledge. Physical space redesign can be temporarily rearranged to encourage knowledge sharing opportunities and new ideas.