Innovation jams as vehicles for innovation

Detta är en avhandling från Chalmers University of Technology

Sammanfattning: This thesis investigates the emerging phenomenon of the innovation jam, and its use by large firms. Innovation jams allow firms to engage with new actors (e.g. employees, customers, lead users) across company and geographical boundaries, and to direct innovative activity in novel ways. Despite the increasing use and popularity of innovation jams by firms, they have received relatively little scholarly attention compared to other, similar collective practices to promote innovation. Moreover, the previous literature focuses primarily on innovation jams as a vehicle for idea generation and knowledge creation while in order to realize an innovation, the firm needs to integrate the knowledge which calls for an extended perspective on this topic. While innovation jams offer many opportunities to firms, their use also challenges the firm’s established development practices. Previous studies rarely link them to firms’ established development practices and other business activities. There is a need to understand an innovation jam as a situated practice, in order to better understand how it interacts with the surrounding organization. The aim of this thesis is to explore the innovation jam as a potential vehicle for innovation in large, established firms. To do so, the thesis draws on data from four exploratory case studies: three in-depth, single case studies, and one multiple case study. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and observations over the period 2011 to 2016. This thesis proposes to view an innovation jam as a dual search process: on the one hand, a series of knowledge search and knowledge creation activities, and on the other hand, a series of activities to achieve commitment from the firm's employees and managers. The thesis points also to a feedback loop which emerges between innovation jams which shapes further search for knowledge, and how problems for local search are formulated and defined. As a result of this feedback loop, innovation jam problems will tend to converge towards well-known problem definitions. In order for an innovation jam to become a vehicle for innovation, firms could benefit from considering how well the knowledge attributes required to solve a problem corresponds with the firms’ existing knowledge base, on the one hand, and with the firms’ established coordination mechanisms, on the other hand. This thesis points also to that firms implementing and using an innovation jam, can benefit from reframing problems to ‘fit’ with the firm’s established language, the development of new evaluation criteria, and adjustments to a firm’s strategy.

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