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9 - Managing the Paradoxes of Innovation

from Part 2 - managing innovation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2015

David H. Cropley
Affiliation:
University of South Australia
Arthur J. Cropley
Affiliation:
Universität Hamburg
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Summary

The innovation phase model (IPM) described in Chapter 8 provides a framework for understanding the contribution of the building blocks (person, process, product, and press) to innovation. The IPM also serves as a mechanism for understanding the paradoxes – in particular, the personal environment paradoxes – that were discussed in Chapter 6. In simple terms, the innovation manager is faced with a problem – how to use his or her knowledge of the six building blocks derived from the expanded Ps model, their contributions to innovation and firm performance, and the paradoxes they embody to improve innovation in an organization.

It would be reasonable to conclude, from the arguments and concepts presented so far in this book, that the right approach to managing innovation is to start from the bottom and work up. The antecedent building blocks drive innovation and firm performance (Figure 9.1).

The obvious conclusion is that the best approach would be to measure those antecedents, as described in Chapter 7; characterize the available innovation resources; and then fit the two together in the best way possible – align them to the favorable poles set out in the IPM – to improve the organization's capacity for innovation. For example, in a phase in which divergent thinking is most favorable to innovation, it makes sense to focus on individuals who have been identified as divergent thinkers. When risk aversion is favorable, it seems logical to insert the risk-averse individuals into the process.

Although this approach accounts for the IPM and the paradoxes within that model, its bottom-up nature has several weaknesses. It may make sense to allocate certain individuals to certain parts of the process based on their behavioral dispositions and the particular requirements of the part of the process in question, but how does the innovation manager deal with the press in this bottom-up approach? If the organizational climate is characterized in a certain way and is static or fixed, then how is the innovation manager to fit that to the paradoxical nature of press described in the IPM? The weakness of this bottom-up approach is its static nature; it is an approach that is reminiscent of trait theories of individuals in psychology.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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