Walker, Chen, and Aravind (2015) conducted a study on innovation in management by collecting and summarizing evidence from existing research. The study essentially tries to find answers for three different questions. The first is whether new developments in management can positively influence firms. The second is whether innovations in technology and in management have similar value. Finally, the authors wonder what sources of problems may be in management innovations when it is applied to performance. It can be said that the study is searching for answers rather than testing a hypothesis or arguing something. One of the key concepts explored in this article was innovation. In this research, the authors defined it as “…new device, system, program, or practice in one or more internal units” (Walker, Chen, & Aravind, 2015, p. 408). Then the authors conducted a literature review on how the use of managerial innovation is justified in organizations. Within a rational perspective approach, it is suggested that each innovation is reviewed on the basis of its costs and benefits. Institutional perspective allows taking a more broad approach to the decision-making process when adopting a new practice. It involves thinking through social, economic factors, norms and regulations, customers, shareholders, and other notions.
The research that the authors did was necessary due to the need to summarize and put existing knowledge in order. As it has been noted in the previous literature, cited by Walker, Chen, and Aravind (2015) there is a variety of explanations for the use of organizational or managerial innovation. However, no single point of view is yet considered universally acceptable. In addition, the relationship between performance and managerial innovation was supported by conflicting evidence, which communicates the need to sort and rethink it. The authors also note that research on organizational performance lacked case studies and real-life tests. To answer all these questions and sort the evidence, the authors did a keyword search and applied coding protocols that included several steps. The coded words defined the application of the measured concepts (management innovation, technological innovation, performance measurement). These words included ‘country,’ ‘industry,’ ‘performance type,’ and other. First results yielded 150 articles which were then sorted in order to pick the most relevant and varied articles. The authors ensured that the final pool of research included studies with different methodologies. Walker, Chen, and Aravind (2015) applied both meta-analysis and support score to the 44 articles from the final pool.
The most important finding of the authors was that management innovation positively affects business performance. The support factor for this argument was more than 50%, which shows a strong positive correlation between concepts. Another achievement of the authors was that they discovered technological innovations to be no different from management ones in relation to performance. No reliable data was uncovered in studies that focused on non-economic types of performance. Also, in general, innovation as a concept was more likely to be associated with positive change in performance. Careful measurement of innovation is needed before implementation. The authors suggest that relying only on one measurement is wrong. Rational and institutional approach to innovation assessment can both be used with no difference in effectiveness. Yet, Walker, Chen, and Aravind (2015) note that the choice of the way may change depending on the environment. If a deeper level of analysis is needed, then an institutional method could be best applied. Empirical evidence uncovered by the authors contains proof of the effectiveness of both ways.
One of the key conclusions the authors made from the analyzed data is that new technologies (whether they are managerial or technological) tend to increase organizational performance. This justifies the company’s investments into research and development departments. In addition, innovations stimulate firms to grow, change, and evolve. Among other findings was that companies that manufacture products tend to combine the use of technological and managerial innovations. This is dictated by the changing nature of the market, the needs of customers and competitors’ resources. Further studies, as the authors note, can be directed to the integration of rational and institutional approaches to innovation adoption and implementation. The relationships between the two concepts still remain rather unclear despite they both help organizations produce updates. The authors also conclude that management innovations need to be studied more in various aspects of their functioning in an organizational setting. The reason for that is the existence of the unresolved challenges with methodology and relation to performance in settings such as non-economic firms (NGOs and other non-for-profit organizations).
The usefulness of this article can be seen in numerous aspects. Firstly, the article summarizes and cites a variety of different authors. It demonstrates the difference in opinions on many issues. The authors did a good search to find about 150 articles that address the problem of management innovations. Furthermore, they sorted only the ones that are the most significant for the issue. Walker, Chen, and Aravind also made sure to pick ones where evidence is statistically significant. The number of covered concepts can also be considered a positive side of the article under analysis. The authors did a great job explaining and comparing different scientific approaches and notions. Their approach also contained a combination of meta-analysis techniques and support score that contributes to sorting evidence and data in the field of management research. Even the fact that researches made a list of quality articles devoted to this issue is already a good thing for anybody who wants to improve their knowledge in this sphere. The authors included the type of the article, number of participants, methodology design, and other useful statistics about each article that helps simplify the search. A researcher who wants to argue in support of or against innovations in an organization would find this list useful. One could easily draw evidence from such list minding the experience of the authors and drawbacks of the previous research.
As for the drawbacks of the study, the methodology seems complicated. The usage of two different approaches to data analysis at once makes it harder to understand the logic behind the research. In addition, the variety of concepts could also complicate the assessment and shift the attention to less important variables. The article is clearly designed to be read and analyzed by experienced scientists and not by managers. This is a minus because managers are the ultimate beneficiaries of the knowledge created in such articles. Organizational leaders should be at all times aware of the latest scientific achievements to create and use evidence-based practices in their environment. Yet, not a lot of managers could understand and analyze the data produced in this article. On the other hand, this may stimulate UAE organizations to fund research and development departments more. Constant development and research of such articles could create a demand for qualified scientists with degrees. This would in turn work as an improvement factor for an organization, generating and implementing more innovations in the workflow. This was partly mentioned in the article where the authors described the benefits of the implementation of two different innovation assessments. The study results could be beneficial to UAE companies. The uncovered fact that organizational innovations positively influence a company’s performance means that managers should be more open-minded about change. It could be an incentive for generally-conservative leaders who might consider changing the style of corporate governance in UAE companies. Also, the implementation of combined managerial and technological innovations could be useful for Arab firms. The researchers discussed a large set of bonuses for manufacturing companies that implement such an approach. Among them, a balanced development for an organization and high R&D investment return (Walker, Chen, & Aravind, 2015). Moreover, UAE firms and researchers could use this article to develop their own meta-analyses with articles that target domestic region and focus innovation implementation in UAE companies. All that could bring important changes in the way the businesses view change. Arab firms could learn that innovations are mostly beneficial for the company if they are examined with the right tools and in the right environment. The list of studies could be used and reworked with the addition of Middle-eastern countries and business practices in order to see how management innovation would correlate with the performance there. This could bring additional theoretical and practical knowledge to managers. By addressing the drawbacks of the present article, researchers from Emirates could make their studies more adapted to the needs of business and education.
Walker, R. M., Chen, J., & Aravind, D. (2015). Management innovation and firm performance: An integration of research findings. European Management Journal, 33(5), 407–422.