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Exploring problem finding in a medical device company
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Integrated Product Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6056-5172
2012 (English)In: Measuring Business Excellence, ISSN 1368-3047, E-ISSN 1758-8057, Vol. 16, no 4, 66-78 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to investigate the implementation and use of a systematic and collaborative approach for environmental scanning in a medical device company aiming to identify opportunities for both incremental and radical innovation. The study seeks to address the present gap in research on challenges associated with achieving a balance between exploration and exploitation on a micro level. Design/methodology/approach: The implementation and use of a systematic and collaborative approach for environmental scanning to support the identification and analysis of opportunities for radical and incremental innovation and its related challenges is described and analyzed. Experiences and observations from a single case study, conducted in an R&D organization in an international medical device company during two years forms the basis for the study. During 2009-2011 an empirical investigation at an R&D unit composed of 200 employees at a Swedish site in an international medical device company, known as a market and pioneering leader was conducted. A qualitative evaluation and analysis was utilized using the gathering of relevant data from specified documents and surveys, compilation of databases in use for external information search, observations during formal meetings and semi-structured interviews with individuals representing different departments and hierarchical levels to collect substantive and relevant data. Findings: The study points to the importance of balancing the degree of formalization in the process in order to motivate different individuals and to create learning and innovation outcomes. Research limitations/implications: The study contributes to the body of innovation management literature by providing empirical data on how companies are organizing work to systematically acquire and use information about events and trends in the external environment defined as environmental scanning as means for building innovation capabilities in practice. Practical implications: The selection of direction and scope of search, the design and implementation of the scanning process and IT tool, the mechanisms needed to integrate different hierarchical levels and functions to identify new ideas and strategy implications are found to be factors critical to manage. Originality/value: This study provides rich multi-level longitudinal empirical data and addresses the current gap in research on challenges associated with achieving a balance between exploration and exploitation on a micro level. It specifically contributes to the need to better understand how firms build capabilities to identify opportunities and problems in the early phases of product innovation when aiming to generate both radical and incremental innovations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 16, no 4, 66-78 p.
Keyword [en]
Environmental scanning, Health services sector, Innovation management, Medical equipment, R&D management, Radical and incremental innovation, Sweden
National Category
Economics and Business
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-114051DOI: 10.1108/13683041211276456Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84869067955OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-114051DiVA: diva2:588176
Note

QC 20130115

Available from: 2013-01-15 Created: 2013-01-15 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Making innovation everyone´s business: Using routines and controls
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Making innovation everyone´s business: Using routines and controls
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Contemporary high-technology companies are under pressure to deliver short-term profits and to serve the market demands for future innovative solutions. An increased interest for alternative innovations such as new services or business models to be recognized in parallel to new technologies results in that companies are increasingly attempting to engage all their employees in innovation. This requires attention to what ways of working need to be changed in order to better support employees in pursuing both induced and autonomous initiatives i.e. to realize ideas that are aligned to and those that deviate from a company´s existing strategy and operational models. A key challenge is related to understanding how to develop organizational routines; how to make use of management controls to support both types of initiatives despite their different needs and, make the changes in routines and controls become accepted throughout the organization. Surprisingly few studies deal with understanding how managers or assigned employees in companies go about to address these issues.

The overall purpose of this thesis is to increase knowledge on how innovation capabilities are built when involving a broad base of employees in innovation in large and mature organizations. More specifically, this thesis seeks to understand what characterizes organizational routines and what are the consequences from using different types of management controls supporting employees in pursuing both induced and autonomous initiatives. The thesis is made up of four qualitative studies that explore how a planned effort to deliberately involve a broad base of employees in innovation is performed and experienced by actors representing different hierarchical levels and functions in two large and world-leading high-technology companies.

The research shows how involving employees in innovation can be made possible through a conscious and creative design and usage of routines and controls. The thesis shows that an upper management call for an increased number of induced and autonomous initiatives results in the use of diverse approaches to achieve this goal even within the same organization due to personal beliefs and experiences of what innovation needs and due to a bias towards either personnel or action management controls. Further, a strong focus on developing organizational routines to initiate innovation was observed at the expense of routines for selection and development of new initiatives. The studies show also that the outcome is dominated by incremental process improvements and the underlying reason to this result is discussed in this thesis.

Four characteristics were identified that distinguish organizational routines used in settings successfully supporting employees in pursuing both induced and autonomous initiatives : i) routines targeting selection, development and retention in an innovation process, ii) routines were frequently used and were somewhat linked to other routines, iii) routines to support resource owners and/or customers to come in direct contact with innovators to evaluate and develop new ideas in an atmosphere characterized by a mix of playfulness and seriousness were developed and finally iv) a combination of personnel and actions controls were used. Implications for innovation management, organizational routine and management control research are discussed.

Finally, a re-thinking and re-design of the performance management is suggested, taking into consideration the potential in using measurement and goal setting to provide effective means to support both induced and autonomous initiatives. The studies showed that the use of performance measurement can act as a trigger for managers to take actions. In addition, the thesis identified the value in improving the understanding of how result controls, specifically goals, can be formulated and used to stimulate different types of innovative behaviors.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2015. 88 p.
Series
TRITA-MMK, ISSN 1400-1179 ; 2015:03
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-165832 (URN)978-91-7595-549-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-05-20, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20150504

Available from: 2015-05-04 Created: 2015-04-29 Last updated: 2015-05-04Bibliographically approved

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Nilsson, Susanne

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