A study of inputs and their influence on technological innovative activity
Technological innovation has been widely studied: however surprisingly little is known about the experience of managing the process. Most reports tend to be generalistic and/or prescriptive whereas it is argued that multiple sources of variation in the process limit the value of these. A description of the innovation process is given together with a presentation of what is knovrn from existing studies. Gaps identified in this area suggest that a variety of organisational influences are important and an attempt is made to identify some of these at individual, group and organisational level. A simple system model of the innovation management process is developed. Further investigation of the influence of these factors was made possible through an extended on-site case study. Methodology for this based upon participant observation coupled wth a wide and flexible range of techniques is described. Evidence is presented about many aspects of the innovation process from a number of different levels and perspectives: the attempt is to demonstrate the extent to which variation due to contingent influences takes place. It is argued that problems identified all relate to the issue of integration. This theme is also developed from an analytical viewoint and it is suggested that organisational response to increases in complexity in the external environment will be to match them with internal complexity. Differentiation of this kind will require extensive and flexible integration, especially in those inherently uncertain areas associated with innovation. Whilst traditionally a function of management, it is argued that integration needs have increased to the point where a new specialism is required. The concept of integration specialist is developed from this analysis and attempts at simple integrative change during the research are described. Finally a strategy for integration - or rather for building in integrative capability - ln the organisation studied is described.