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Annika Steiber and Sverker Alänge

Previous research has found that organizational innovations are important for organizations’ long-term competitive advantage and for technical innovations. In spite of this conclusion, organizational innovations remain poorly managed and poorly understood, especially the processes through which organizational innovations are created, diffused, and sustained. There is thus a need for a more comprehensive understanding of mechanisms catalyzing organizational development and change. The purpose of this paper is to develop a comprehensive model for studying and better understanding the creation, diffusion, and sustaining of organizational innovations by using a system perspective. The three concepts “creation,” “diffusion,” and “sustaining” are highly intertwined and should not be explored in isolation, as organizational innovations are constantly being re-invented.

The model for catalyzing organizational development and change could be visualized as five steps that form a circular pattern around an organizational-specific and path-dependent improvement trajectory rather than a single organizational innovation. The five steps are influenced by the external context, the internal environment, and the characteristics of the innovation itself. Further, different diffusion channels such as consultants, universities, and standardization forums function as mechanisms for knowledge transfer and triggering one or several of the five steps. The model is developed based on two literature reviews conducted over a 14-year period and findings from two empirical studies covering four Swedish manufacturing firms and one hospital.

The model proposed here has already been used in practice in a study for the Swedish Innovation Agency VINNOVA. Likewise the model proved to be useful in analyzing both similarities and differences between different national programs for catalyzing organizational development. This comprehensive model, we suggest, has a wider and more general use and is applicable across the Triple Helix model.

Sverker Alänge and Annika Steiber

This paper examines new approaches that large firms are using to become more ambidextrous—more able to “explore” and innovate for the future while they “exploit” current lines of business. It presents and compares three different models for boosting innovation by partnering with external actors: GE Appliances’ FirstBuild unit for new-product development, the Open Innovation function at Electrolux, and Lantmännen’s Greenhouse corporate accelerator program. The models are earlystage but have started generating product and business-model innovations, planting seeds of cultural change in the parent firms, and building external ecosystems with partners that range from startup companies to individual developers and makers.

Annika Steiber and Sverker Alänge

In a rapidly transforming global marketplace, organizations need to make effective use of organizational innovations in order to remain competitive. Previous research has identified a need for a more comprehensive framework that will aid in better understanding of the mechanisms catalyzing organizational development and change. Steiber and Alänge (Triple Helix 2(9):1–25, 2015) presented such a comprehensive model for organizational innovations based on literature reviews and two empirical studies of the organizational innovations of Total Quality Management, Lean Production, and the Toyota Production System. All of these draw heavily on the experiences of Toyota in Japan and are known for their focus on continuous improvement of quality and efficiency.

This paper investigates whether this model can be applied to different categories of organizational innovations developed in different institutional environments. It is therefore tested on the “Google Innovation System” (GIS), developed in California’s Silicon Valley, which is here viewed as a contrasting organizational innovation focused on continual innovation.

The model is shown to be applicable to analyze the Google Innovation System organizational innovation. This paper therefore verifies a comprehensive model for the creation, diffusion, and sustaining of organizational innovations. The findings extend current theory on organizational innovations and provide insights for practitioners in innovation-intensive environments.