Innovation is a concept that has proved to be very important for today’s businesses and economies. It is often associated with change and transformation due to the fact that new ideas are brought up. Like many business concepts, it has numerous facets. This essay will explore various behavioral factors that influence innovation and innovation process. This will be achieved through the exploration of different theories and concepts and key arguments between theorists and different theoretical positions.
Innovation is broadly considered as a very crucial source of competitive advantage in the business world today (Amo, 2005, p. 4; Vieites & Calvo, 2011, p. 8). According to experts in business management, innovative capacity is the most significant determinant of business success (Patterson, Kerrin & Gatto-Roissard, 2009, p. 15). An open search of scholarly publications in the web using the word “innovation” generates myriad articles. However, there are very few reviews and most of the publications are narrowly focused. While these articles help us to gain more knowledge on particular elements of innovation, they do not provide a link between these elements and subsequently hinders consolidation of the field. Therefore, the objective of this essay is to consolidate existing studies and identify gaps if any. For that reason, the essay is based on a systematic analysis of various studies.
Definition of innovation
The term “innovation” is usually used as a substitute for ingenuity or change (Makimattila, Melkas & Uotila, 2013, p. 243). Most of the literatures have focused on different facets of the term when trying to define innovation. Innovation was originally defined by Schumpeter in the 20s (Hansen & Wakonen, 1997, p. 345). Schumpeter emphasized on the aspect of novelty. According to Schumpeter, innovation is reflected in all forms of novelty. This definition was rubbished by Hansen and Wakonen (1997, p. 347) since it makes any form of change an innovation by definition. Up to date, debates on various facets of innovation are still going on (Tiwari, 2008, p. 4).
Tiwari (2008, p. 4) defines innovation as the creation, expansion and putting into practice new ideas. He links innovation to change and transformation. Crossan and Apaydin (2010, p. 1155) provides a more comprehensive definition of innovation. They define innovation as an implementation or production, incorporation, and utilization of a value-added novelty in socioeconomic environment; restoration and expansion of output and markets; creation of new production techniques; and embracing new styles or systems of management. This definition captures significant facets of innovation, which include both internal and external facets. It provides a relative, rather than absolute definition.
Definition of innovation process
In the context of a business, the innovation process is a set of instructions which are to be followed and implemented. Normally, the innovation process starts with a problem in question and ends with a gain or a profit. Therefore, it is a structured process (Verworn & Herstatt, 2002, p. 3). It can be noted that just a few large firms across the world have come up with a structured innovation process, which they have finally implemented (Makimattila et al., 2013, p. 245). Historically, the researches that were conducted in regards to the innovation process aimed at recognizing the backgrounds and impacts of innovation and founding a pivotal connection among the various stages of advancements (Peralta et al., 2015, p. 86).
Importance of the topic
This topic is very relevant and is of great value to firms and policy makers. It provides the forms and policy makers with more information on organizational behavioral factors that influence innovation and innovation process. Therefore, enables them to embrace relevant strategies in line with the prevailing conditions. In addition, the topic also adds to the body of knowledge of related studies about innovation in organizations.
Organization Behavioral Factors that influence innovation and innovation process
Organization behavioral factors simply refer to the factors that influence how individuals in an organization respond to innovation and innovation process. Based on a systematic review of the existing body of literature, four main factors can be identified. They include organizational models, organizational culture, leadership, and individual motivation and innovation process.
Types of organizations
For many business entities, the capacity to provide sustainable, innovative solutions requires a strategic model (Kaplam & Winby, 2014, p. 1). Kaplam and Winby (2014, p. 1) identified the following organizational models, namely: ambidextrous organizations, venture boards, innovation councils, thought leaders resource networks, and open innovation networks. Ambidextrous organizations are organizations that always reluctant to spend money on projects that are deemed too risky due to limited resources. They have distinct units that have independent structures, processes and culture. All these are aimed at supporting innovation process (Kaplam & Winby, 2014, p. 2).
Venture boards are synonymous with large organizations like Proctor and Gamble. It is an official advisory board formed by these organizations to bring external views, which eventually helps to drive innovations. The thought leader resource network is a team of consultants that can be hired by organizations for specific advice. Open innovative network is basically partnership with external research institutions. The supporters of this idea believe that the world has changed and companies must consider novel strategies, which would help to access external knowledge and resources. However, critics argue that it may lead to leakage of a company’s secrets to the rivals (Kaplam & Winby, 2014, p. 2).
Innovative council is a team of senior manager that are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that innovation-related operations are well coordinated and aligned strategically. Last but not least, innovative communities of practice are an association of employees from different organizations who share common interests. They meet on a regular basis to exchange knowledge and ideas (Kaplam & Winby, 2014, p. 3).
Many studies have been conducted to establish the impact of organizational culture on innovation process (Cabrera, Cabrera & Barajas, 2001; Hulsheger, Anderson & Salgado, 2009). Cabrera, Cabrera & Barajas (2001, p. 250) defines culture as an independent explanatory variable, usually determined by the values and norms in organizations. However, they brought attention to the fact that innovation is a very intricate process normally viewed from different perspectives. Kotter (1995, p. 63) offers four viewpoints on innovation processes, namely: premeditated perspective, technological perspective, punctuated equilibrium perspective and emergent perspective.
A premeditated perspective assumes that the managers are the principal enforcers of the organizational culture, hence the innovation process. This viewpoint has been challenged by Cabrera et al. (2001, p. 254) who view innovation as an entity that can be managed independently. Kottler believed the main drivers of technological innovation are information technology. However, this viewpoint has been criticized by Crossan and Apaydin (2010) for paying less attention to human factors. Interruptive equilibrium viewpoint assumes that innovation is swift, intermittent and thorough.
This viewpoint is grounded on cultural stability. Last but not least, emergent change perspective is based on the ongoing practices in the organization. This viewpoint is based on the postulation of action and not stability. Members of an organization usually improvise and develop their job functions because innovation is viewed as an essential practice (Kotter, 1995, p. 60; Cabrera et al., 2001, p. 256).
Many studies have suggested that leadership styles have a considerable influence on the innovation process. A number of them identify leadership as the most significant facet of the innovation process (Tierney, 2008, p. 5). Some link innovation to leadership styles, for example, participative and collaborative leadership (Patterson, Kerrin & Gatto-Roissard, 2009, p. 18). Patterson et al. (2009, p. 18), established that employees are likely to embrace innovative activities when their leaders are more supportive. Similarly, Hammond et al. (2011, p. 104) concluded that technical –related support and emotional support, promote creativity in the organization. However, Patterson et al. (2009, p. 18) argues that leaders cannot promote innovation when the employees have not motivated themselves.
Fredrick Taylor was among the first authors to write about employee motivation. Taylor’s main assumption was that economic gain was the principal motivator. However, his theory was criticized for considering only monetary benefits and ignoring other motivational factors (Patterson et al., 2009, p. 18). According to Hammond et al. (2011, p. 94), organizations can only promote innovative culture through intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The two enhances employees’ commitment and job satisfaction.
In the study, a number of issues have emerged. Some studies show lack of consistency. For instance, some of them suggest that the innovation process is an in-house affair. However, from the models of organization mentioned in the study, it is very clear that the innovation process can be initiated by outsiders, either through partnership or consultancy service. Nonetheless, most the authors agree that culture, leadership and individual motivation have a significant influence on innovation and innovation process. Lack of a comprehensive definition of innovation that covers all the facets is a major gap in the existing body of literatures. In addition, there are very few studies on organizational models and the link between behavioral factors. For this reason, further research is required.
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