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ORGANIZATION SCIENCE Vol. 1, No. 3, August 1990 Printed in U.S.A.
METHODS FOR STUDYING INNOVATION DEVELOPMENT IN THE MINNESOTA INNOVATION RESEARCH PROGRAM* ANDREW H. VAN DE VEN AND MARSHALLSCOTTPOOLE
StrategicManagementResearch Center, Universityof Minnesota, 271 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455 This paper describes the methods being used by the Minnesota Innovation Research Program to develop and test a process theory of innovation which explains how and why innovations develop over time and what developmental paths may lead to success and failure for different kinds of innovations. After a background description of the longitudinal field research, this paper focuses on the methods being used to examine processes of innovation development. These methods pertain to the selection of cases and concepts, observing change, coding and analyzing event data to identify process patterns, and developing theories to explain observed innovation processes. We believe these methods are applicable to other studies that examine a range of temporal processes, including organizational startup, growth, decline, and adaptation. (PROCESS METHODS; SEQUENCE ANALYSIS; INNOVATION)
Introduction In their extensive review of the innovation literature, Tornatsky et al. (1983) point out that while many studies have examined the antecedents to or consequences of innovation, very few have directly examined how and why innovations emerge, develop, grow, or terminate over time. Yet, an appreciation of the temporal sequence of activities in developing and implementing new ideas is fundamental to the management of innovation. Innovation managers need to know more than the input factors required to achieve desired innovation outcomes. They are centrally responsible for directing the innovating process within the proverbial "black box" between inputs and outcomes. To do this, the innovation manager needs a "road map" that indicates how and why the innovating journey unfolds, and what paths are likely to lead to success or failure. In other words, the innovation manager needs a process theory that explains innovation development.' From a developmental perspective, such a process theory focuses on explaining the temporal order and sequence of steps that unfold as an innovative idea is transformed and implemented...