Nurturing Innovations : idea development in R&D projects

Detta är en avhandling från Luleå : Luleå tekniska universitet

Sammanfattning: This thesis aims to encourage the realization of innovations through supporting individuals involved in idea development activities, within or related to R&D projects. This is of interest because R&D projects have become fundamental units for achieving innovation, particularly in large companies, and innovations require the implementation of creative ideas. However, creative ideas meet more resistance and reluctance about their implementation, compared to their non-creative counterparts. As idea development can help to enhance the quality of an idea and thereby increase its chances of adoption, idea development consequently constitutes an important but often neglected part of innovation. The purpose of this research is therefore to investigate and understand idea development in product development, and to elaborate on how to manage this aspect of the innovation process. Drawing upon data from numerous R&D projects within the Sandvik Group, a questionnaire administered in two large companies, and interviews with individuals involved in innovation management activities in seven different companies, some findings have been made. First, action is necessary to turn ideas into innovations. However, actions by other individuals involved in the innovation process can also constitute obstacles to innovations. In turn, this type of obstacles seem to have more effect compared to more frequently mentioned obstacles like resource allocation and structures & systems. Second, emotions play a major role in idea development. For example, biases identified in idea development activities has been found to create tensions experienced by involved actors as they influence the development of an idea in opposing directions. The presence of such tensions seems particularly strong in relation to the newness, ownership, transparency, and belief of an idea. Third, it is essential to pay attention to ideas as this will enhance legitimacy for working with ideas and innovations. One way to accomplish this, and also to create evolutionary pressure for an idea, is to incorporate an extra dimension of personalisation into idea management practices in companies, i.e. a shared responsibility for ideas. Ideas cannot and should not be harvested. In contrast, this thesis argues for that ideas can and should be nurtured so that innovations can be harvested. The findings made, and the implications they have, are believed to support this endeavour in large companies focusing on product development in mature markets.

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