Models of Innovation Contribution Towards Innovation Management in Organizations

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(a)Explain how the four main schools of thought: serendipity, linear models, simultaneous coupling model and interactive model, have contributed to our understanding of managing innovation within organisations. (30%)What is innovation in organizations ?Innovation, though used very widely, means different things to different persons/bodies. There are as many definitions as there are authors. However, the definitions of innovation differ in two major ways. The first difference relates to what constitutes innovation and the second relates to the focus of the definition. (Sahay A, 2005 : 66).

Through these varieties of viewpoints, creativity is typically seen as the basis for innovation, and innovation is the successful implementation of creative ideas within an organization.

We focus our definition of innovation as a management process :-Innovation is the management of all the activities involved in the process of idea generation, technology development, manufacturing and marketing of a new (or improved) product or manufacturing process or equipment. (Trott P, 2005 :15)In the organizational context, innovation may be linked to performance and growth through improvements in efficiency, productivity, quality, competitive positioning, market shares, etc. (University of South Africa, 2009)Models of InnovationSince the 1950s, there has been a proliferation of innovation models, each purporting to explain and/or guide the process of innovation within industrial firms. (Hobday, 2005 : 122).

Strengths and benefits of Innovation ModelsOn the positive side, each generation of model captured the academic knowledge of the time and summarized perceptions of best practice. Each generation served as a foundation for more sophisticated models allowing the incorporation of additional factors relevant to the innovation process. Also each model generated useful insights and hypotheses into the nature of innovation and decision making requirements at the level of the firm, pointing toimportant links between innovation and other key processes within the firm (e.g. management, marketing and manufacturing) and external to the firm (e.g. the S&T environment, universities and government policies). (Hobday, 2005: 127).

In addition to serving as a foundation for understanding, the various models have beenwidely used by companies within the Industrially advanced countries to guide the innovation process. Major consultancy firms frequently adopt one or other of the innovation models, and further develop them for guiding businesses wishing to improve their innovation processes. (Hobday, 2005: 127).

5 Caveats of Innovation ModelsAccording to Hobday (2005,21) the following are the 5 caveats of innovation models :-1. The evolution from one generation to another does not imply any automatic substitution of one model for another; many models exist side-by-side and, in some cases, elements of one model are mixed with elements of another at any particular time;2. Each model is always a highly simplified representation of a complex process that will rarely exist in a pure form;3. Often the progress from one generation to another reflects shifts in dominant perception of what constitutes best practice, rather than actual progress;4. The most appropriate model will vary from sector to sector, and between different categories of innovation (e.g. radical or incremental);5. The processes that occur within firms are to an extent contingent on exogenous factors such as the pace of technological change.

Four Models of InnovationIn this section the 4 models of innovation are described. These include Serendipity, Linear Model, Simultaneous Coupling Model and Interactive Model.

Serendipity:-Many studies of historical cases of innovation have highlighted the importance of the unexpected discovery. The role of serendipity or luck is offered as explanation. On closer inspection of these historical cases, serendipity is rare indeed. Most discoveries are the...
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