This article contributes to research on transactive memory systems (TMSs) by analyzing the relationship between trust, collective mind (CM), and network ties (NT) as antecedents of performance in innovative university research (IUR), and the mediating role of the TMS in these relationships. The conceptual model grounded in seven hypotheses is tested through structural equations modeling. The data analyzed are drawn from 257 directors Spanish university research groups. The results show that TRUST, CM, and NT are positively related to the TMS and that the TMS is positively related to IUR. The most striking result is that the TMS mediates the relationships of TRUST, CM, and NT to IUR, becoming a necessary condition for TRUST, CM, and NT to improve IUR. These results support the conclusion that managers of university research groups should promote the development of TMSs to stimulate IUR in order to make these groups more competitive.
Increasing innovative performance is currently a crucial element in the development of organizational productivity and competitiveness (Mattes, 2014; Fan et al., 2016; VásquezUrriago et al., 2016; Verdu-Jover et al., 2017; Ardito and Messeni, 2017; Serrano-Bedia et al., 2017). Seeking methods that explain this innovative performance is always beneficial, but such inquiry is especially important now that innovation is recognized as a dynamic capability (Danneels, 2002; Verona and Ravasi, 2003; Verdu-Jover et al., 2017) and generative source of differentiation (Haavisto, 2014; RuizJiménez and Fuentes-Fuentes, 2016; Verdu-Jover et al., 2017). Although innovation is primarily associated with private firms, innovative orientation also develops in the public sector, specifically in universities (Hewitt-Dundas, 2012; Spanos et al., 2015; Hormiga et al., 2017). University research must cover continual and demanding changing needs. To improve performance and differentiation, the research must be innovative, and this need has led to the concept of innovative university research (IUR). IUR can be defined as the generation of pioneering research by university groups, according to the content or process that research uses. To analyze the IUR in university research groups, this study focuses on the role of the transactive memory system (TMS), a variable that has recently been attracting attention from academics and practitioners (Kotlarsky et al., 2015; Fan et al., 2016; Cao and Ali, 2018). The TMS explains how each member takes responsibility for his/her area of work, contributing knowledge to the group as a whole (Cabeza et al., 2013; Cao and Ali, 2018) while simultaneously fostering cohesion among members (Heavey and Simsek, 2015). Since the TMS comprises trust in the reliability of others’ knowledge and the group’s efficacy in identifying the differentiated knowledge of each member (Lewis, 2003; Fan et al., 2016; Cao and Ali, 2018), it may facilitate IUR in groups.