The Multiple Faces of Innovation Management

An Academic Perspective

Given that ‘innovation’ is a widely used term subject to different interpretations (e.g. Fagerberg, 2004; Godin, 2008; Linton, 2009), it is necessary for us to clarify our usage in defining the network’s scope. The term ‘innovation’ (derived from the Latin innovare, to make new) generally means the introduction of something new (more strictly, the making of changes in an established area through the introduction of something new), such as new methods, ideas or devices, and this can apply to any area of human activity. Thus we can have management innovations (e.g. Business Process Reengineering), organizational innovations (e.g. the extended enterprise), marketing innovations (e.g. web-based sales), service innovations (e.g. web-based delivery of educational services), medical innovations (e.g. laparoscopic surgery), health service innovations (e.g. remote diagnostic services), educational innovations (e.g. student-oriented learning), etc. However, as various historians of technology have pointed out, innovation is seen by economists as an economic act involving the commercial introduction of new products/services, technologies or production/distribution processes, and organizational systems (e.g. Freeman, 1977), and it is this usage that has become the primary focus of interest as can be seen in the contemporary innovation policy discourse exemplified by the Commonwealth Government’s 2009 White Paper ‘Powering Ideas - An Innovation Agenda for the 21st Century’.

Taking the current national policy perspective as a starting point:

‘Innovation is about doing new things and doing existing things in new ways. .... Innovation involves generating, diffusing and applying knowledge’ (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009, p. 17)

We define the scope of the network to cover all elements of the management of innovation as a process that occurs within the economy or ‘national innovation system’ (at national, regional and local levels), within sectors and industries, within and across organizations, and which encompasses the roles of key individuals (such as entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, technical specialists, policy-makers, R&D managers, etc.). Innovation is broadly construed to include not only ‘technological innovation’1, but also other forms of non-technological innovation that involve the introduction of something new and useful in a particular domain of activity (thereby, for example, bringing public sector and social innovation into consideration). The process so construed encompasses a vast array of activities within and across organizations, including: government innovation policy, organizational innovation strategy and policy, creativity and invention, entrepreneurship and enterprise development, opportunity identification and concept generation, concept and project evaluation, R&D2 and other forms of knowledge acquisition, new product and process development (NPD), organizational change, implementation and commercialisation, market testing and launch, knowledge transfer and diffusion. All of these activities require resources (i.e. human, financial, technological, knowledge and information) as well as coordination, the central concerns of management.

‘Management’ here is also defined very broadly, e.g. Mary Parker Follett’s ‘the art of getting things done through people’ (Follett, 1942/2003), and includes such activities or functions as: forecasting and planning, strategising, financial analysis and decision-making, policy-making, organising and resourcing, leading and directing, measuring and monitoring, controlling, integrating and coordinating, motivating, etc. The scope of management is defined to include management specialisations, e.g. Human Resource Management, Operations Management, Intellectual Property (IP) management, marketing management, financial management, strategic management, IT management, etc., and is seen as a function that is carried out in all types of organization and not just businesses (e.g. in public sector and not-for-profit organizations).

The scope of the network can therefore be defined in terms of a three-dimensional space, with the three dimensions being: (a) the elements of management, (b) the range of activities associated with the process of innovation, and (c) organizational type. Any topic that falls within this space will be considered a legitimate area of interest for the network, e.g. the role of planning in State government innovation policy, financial management and creativity in large manufacturing organizations, entrepreneurial leadership in indigenous community organizations, cross-sector interorganizational collaborative R&D as a basis for new product development, ‘open innovation’ and the commercialisation of new services among SMEs, the role of knowledge transfer from universities in regional development, etc. These interest areas can be the subject of inquiry by researchers in the disciplines (Economics, Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology, History, Law, Political Science, etc) and the sub-disciplines of Management, Marketing, Accounting and Finance, Cultural Studies, Organizational Studies,