Compare and Contrast a Technical Approach to Innovation

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Innovation has traditionally been seen as technical issue concerned only with machinery and systems. Compare and contrast this technical approach to innovation with the more knowledge-centred approaches discussed on this course. Your answer should draw upon case study evidence to critically assess the value of the two approaches.

Innovation is a key element of modern business. In a world full of modern industrialised nations it is essential for big business to innovate. Ed Rhodes and David Wield identify innovation as; "the implementation of new technologies" (Rhodes, E, 1994, page 79) for a firm to rise above its adversaries and create brand loyalty innovation is key. There are two fields of innovation, Ed Rhodes highlighted technical innovation as "one of the most critical areas for companies' survival and growth." (Rhodes, E, 1994, page 79) However technical innovation is innovation based purely on machinery and systems, knowledge-centred innovation. Knowledge Information is "The creation, evolution, exchange and application of new ideas into marketable goods and services." (Entrovation International, 2006) The process of innovation is based around capitalising on new ideas. There are a few different categories of innovation, paradigm innovation is rare and occurred during the industrial revolution, it is not wholly relevant to this topic as it affects the economy as whole. Process and position innovation are relevant, with product innovation it is simply the creation of a new product. Process innovation is related to knowledge innovation, it relates to the way a service is delivered. Position innovation relates to innovative shifts in a specific market. (Chris Land, 2006, Lecture 2)

In this essay I will discuss the different perceptions of knowledge and how technical innovation differs from knowledge information. I will highlight which innovation approach is of the most significant benefit to a business.

A breakthrough improvement for a company is traditionally seen as a technical issue, however knowledge-centred breakthrough improvement, or 'innovation' based improvement) is not uncommon. "The introduction of a new, more efficient machine in a factory, or the total redesign of a computer-based hotel reservation system, or the introductions of a new and better degree program at a university, are all examples of breakthrough improvement." (Slack, N, 1998, page 692) Here Nigel Slack identifies that innovation is generally perceived as being a technical issue, however, he introduces a better degree program as an innovative method by a University. This better degree scheme is not technical, it is knowledge-centred.

Referring back to a previous quote defining knowledge innovation as; "The creation, evolution, exchange and application of new ideas into marketable goods and services." (Entrovation International, 2006); it can be said that knowledge innovation is simply a pre-requisite to technical innovation. The goods mentioned by Entrovation International here are more than likely technical in orientated; the services can refer to computing systems. There are few markets where goods and services are not technically orientated nowadays other than catering and food markets. In this day and age and it is rare to find a new innovative product that is not computerised in any form, exceptions include the fore mentioned catering and food markets and possibly the toy market. Behind all technological innovations is knowledge based innovation, without knowledge which comes from scientific discovery it is impossible to convert that scientific discovery into a practical product. There is a famous quote which everybody knows; "Knowledge is power"; Henry Ford is one of the legendary innovators of this century, he emphasised the need for knowledge in management strategies. Without knowledge innovation, in terms of how his business was run, could not take place. Henry Ford used knowledge-centred innovation to...
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