Structuring the Front-End of Innovation: An Empirical Analysis of the Role of Perceived Contextual Factors on Intended Applications and Proficiency of Innovation Fields

  • The global economy has gained momentum in recent years, with advances in technology and digitalization leading to shorter product life cycles, increased competition, and transformed industries. These circumstances call for the need for constant innovation. Organizations are required to act and adapt quickly to technological changes, dynamic markets, competitive threats, and rapidly altering customer needs, without losing focus of their established business. Two notions are important for organizations in this setting: (1) reaching ambidexterity and (2) structuring the front-end of innovation. Ambidextrous companies, which own the ability to balance between innovation activities that exploit current competencies (exploitation) and those that explore new competencies (exploration), are more successful than companies which concentrate on only one of these activities (Gibson & Birkinshaw, 2004; He & Wong, 2004; Jansen, Van Den Bosch, & Volberda, 2006; Katila & Ahuja, 2002; C. Kim, Song, & Nerkar, 2012). However, both exploration and exploitation require the allocation of resources, causing a trade-off, which makes it difficult to perform the combination of both (Greve, 2007; Levinthal & March, 1993). Previous research does not focus on how organizations can adapt their innovation activities in order to reach ambidexterity (Cantarello, Martini, & Nosella, 2012; Judge & Blocker, 2008; Z. Wei, Yi, & Guo, 2014). Managing innovations poses an increasingly daunting task for organizations, demanding different requirements regarding the innovation management process. Managing innovation through a structured innovation process facilitates the creation and planning of innovation to transform ideas into marketable products. The first stage of this process – the front-end of innovation – is of significant meaning, since activities in the front-end of innovation are strongly linked to innovation success (Dwyer & Mellor, 1991; Markham, 2013; Moenart, De Meyer, Souder, & Deschoolmeester, 1995; Reid & de Brentani, 2004). The creation of value and competitive advantage takes primarily place in the front-end of innovation, and the actual costs of mismanagement can only be discovered at later stages (Markham, 2013; Reid & de Brentani, 2004; P. Smith & Reinertsen, 1991). A concept to foster ambidexterity and structure the front-end of innovation described mainly by practitioners are so-called innovation fields (Cooper, Edgett, & Kleinschmidt, 2004; Crawford, 1980; Hambrick & Fredrickson, 2001; Khurana & Rosenthal, 1998; Reid & de Brentani, 2004; Talke, Salomo, & Rost, 2010). Innovation fields establish guidelines that determine search strategy, scope, depth, and locus of innovation search by setting search boundaries. Literature describes different types of applications for innovation fields such as strategic purposes, ideation, lifting synergies, technology intelligence and portfolio extension. With innovation fields, organizations (1) can structure the front-end of innovation and align corporate objectives to innovation activities and (2) have an instrument at hand to facilitate the shift of resources and to prioritize innovation activities according to the balance between exploitation and exploration, thereby fostering ambidexterity. However, research on innovation fields is scarce, thus, the objective of this dissertation is to examine how and why perceived contextual factors influence the intended application and perceived proficiency of innovation fields in the front-end of innovation. The theoretical foundation is based on the theory of organizational learning. A research framework is derived from acknowledged literature, focusing on (1) strategic orientation, (2) organizational context and (3) external environment as main contextual factors influencing the intended application of innovation fields. An explorative research design is followed, composed of an embedded single case study design using a mixed-methods approach. As a case, a corporate R&D division of a Germany-based company is selected. First, a qualitative study with semi-structured interviews is conducted, followed by a quantitative survey to get a more comprehensive picture of the role of perceived contextual factors influencing intended innovation field applications and proficiency. Based on the underlying empirical research, distinct differences regarding perceived contextual factors and their influence on intended innovation field applications and proficiency have been identified. Notably, the perceived contextual factors vary across the different types of applications for innovation fields. Overall, the strategic orientation and external environment have a strong influence on the intended innovation field applications and proficiency, while organizational context only play a minor role. Furthermore, the findings substantiate the use of different types of applications for innovation fields in the front-end of innovation. This study contributes to theory by creating a research framework linking perceived contextual factors to intended innovation field applications and proficiency. Finally, this dissertation delivers a comprehensive description of innovation field applications. The findings enhance the existing body of knowledge regarding innovation research, specifically regarding the front-end of innovation and innovation fields as well as organizational learning. Besides the advancement of scientific knowledge, managerial implications are drawn for the application of innovation fields in a corporate context.

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Metadaten
Author:Anja Höft
URN:urn:nbn:de:bsz:1141-opus4-261
Referee:Reinhard Prügl, Timo Schmid
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Language:English
Year of Publication:2018
Date of first Publication:2018/07/20
Publishing Institution:Zeppelin Universität
Granting Institution:Zeppelin Universität
Date of final exam:2018/06/25
Release Date:2018/07/20
Tag:economy, technology, digitalization, innovation, ambidexterity, exploitation, exploration, front-end of innovation, innovation fields, organization, organizational learning, strategic orientation
Pagenumber:X, 230 Seiten, 65 ungezählte Seiten
Licence (German):License Logo Es gilt das UrhG

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