Innovation management: conceptualization for practice & research.

AuthorJain, Ravindra


In order to win over their competitors, organizations require increasing innovation management competence at the level of entire organization and the employees across the cadres. "The stronger the innovation capability possessed by an organization, the more effective will be their innovation performance" (Lawson & Samson, 2001:389). Innovativeness, in fact, is a characteristic feature in organizations that is manifested over time. Globalization of world's economies and the resultant hyper-intensive competition in markets demand widespread innovations and managements of the organizations have no option than to set their contextual environment under which their employees demonstrate their innovative talent to their best. Managing innovations in an organization not only requires the identification of employees having tendency to engage in creative and innovative behavior but also an understanding of how the organizational context influences their behavior contributing to the hassle free adoption and implementation of innovation in the organizational setting. This is a challenge for research and practice requiring insights into the dynamic interplay between individuals and managements of organizations. This study reviews the results of extant research based on which it proposes a fresh conceptualization of innovation management capability.


This article is based on a qualitative review of extant research concerning the adoption / implementation of innovation and the factors that influence the management of such processes. The review integrates the outcomes of a wide array of previous research studies. This is followed by presentation of implications of the proposed conceptualization for formulation of innovation management strategies and research designs for further research. We began with the search of research articles published during 1994 --2013 through multiple data bases like Sage, JSTOR, EBSCOhost and Google Search. The key words used for the purpose were: creativity and innovation, innovation, innovation management, innovation strategy, creative and innovative behavior and organizational innovation. 145 journal articles were identified and in-depth study of the same was done. Online resources searched through 'Google Search' were also utilized.

Creativity & Innovative Behavior

Innovation should be embedded as a part of organizational culture and organizational people should be encouraged to contribute to generate novel ideas directly or indirectly as well as to involve in the process of adoption / implementation of such pool of novel ideas (innovation) to some or greater extent. While facing the challenge of implementation of innovation, organizations are dependent on the tacit and explicit knowledge, creative abilities, and engagement of the employees in such a process. Creativity means generating and nurturing fresh and useful ideas in response to perceived need for the purpose of problem solving and such a process is the beginning of innovation which is necessary but not enough for innovation success. "Creativity without innovation does not produce results and innovation without effective management does not produce marketable products, processes or services" (Beattie, 1999: 2). Resource acquisition and extra-organizational support are also necessary for innovation to be successful. Creativity is the core element in innovation. However, "creativity is not sufficient for achieving the goal of innovation; initiative is a necessary condition for creativity to affect innovation" (Miron, Erez & Naveh 2004: 194). "Creativity is the ability to produce work that is both novel (i.e., original, unexpected) and appropriate (i.e., useful, adaptive) concerning task constraints" (Sternberg & Lubart, 1999: 3), "Creativity and innovation differ in the required degree of idea novelty and social interaction; creativity is truly novel, whereas innovation can be based on ideas that are adopted from previous experience or different organizations" (Rank, Pace & Frese, 2004:520). Thus, "Creativity and innovation are inextricably linked" (Jain, 2014).

Innovation Championing

"Champions of innovation are generally referred to individuals who emerge to take creative ideas (which they may or may not have generated) and bring them to life; they make a decisive contribution to the innovation process by actively and enthusiastically promoting the innovation, building support, overcoming resistance, and ensuring that innovation is implemented" (Howell & Higgins, 1990 :42). The champions adopt the project as their own and show personal commitment to it; they contribute to the project by generating support from other people in the firm; and they advocate the project beyond job requirements in a distinctive manner (Markham, 1998:491). "Promoters of innovation actively & intensively supporting and advancing the innovation and they push it on until the final innovation decision is made, overcoming barriers along the way" (Witte, 1977 : 53); and "they enthusiastically pursue new product ideas, evolve ideas into innovations and eventually bring them to market" (Frost & Egri, 1991 cited in Mansfeld et al., 2010: 1130). Innovation champions identify, recognize, and encourage people to come forward with their novel and applied ideas, make sure that idea generators receive timely recognition and support and they also foster an atmosphere in which "asking questions and exploring problems" are welcomed. Innovation champions also serve as role models to the organizational people to provide inspiration, support for their ideas, and the facilitation required to excel.

"Champions of innovation question the status quo, voice contrary views, and push enterprise leaders to think and do things differently" (Howell, 2005: 115). Team work is more important in influencing overall ability of the organization to innovate (e.g., Muthusamy, Wheeler & Simmon, 2005; Noke & Radnor, 2004; Read, 2000). "Putting people together (Forming teams) is almost always more productive than having people work by themselves" (Whetten & Cameron, 2011: 205). "Being together" is equally significant. "Co-location affects people physically, mentally, and emotionally; trust & confidence between people are enhanced when all the human senses are involved" (Rosenfeld, 2008: 16). The champions make use of a variety of influence techniques such as selling, rationality, enthusiasm, and making personal appeals to other individuals for their assistance (Markham, 1998: 491). In a recent study, Mansfeld, Hozle and Gemunden (2010: 1142) found that innovation champions are characterized by a need for autonomy and an intrinsic form of motivation and they show significantly higher level of altruism than others. "Innovation champions are willing to take risks and confront the organization's resistance and political pressures to realize their objectives. Idea champion, sponsor or mentor, orchestrator or facilitator, and rule-breaker --all these roles present in the matter of innovations in organizations particularly such roles are crucial for enabling others" (Whetten & Cameron, 2011: 207) or empowering others to be innovative. It is to be explained here that idea champion comes up with creative problem solutions whereas sponsors or mentors (innovation champion or innovation promoter) facilitate the idea championing and management of resources. Howell (2005:111) discovered that "innovation champions provide enthusiastic support for creative ideas by sheltering new ideas from premature evaluation, advocating new ideas, and recognizing the production of new ideas; and more effective innovation champions engage in scouting activities as well as in scanning their environment for ideas and information in order to identify promising opportunities". Innovation champions pro-actively manage and maintain a free flow of information exchange among team members and the stakeholders. They actively attempt to influence the attitude of senior & top executives toward the initiation and implementation of innovation in an effective manner. They develop a coalition of all concerned in order to ensure effective implementation of innovation. They inspire the internal public by sharing their vision...

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