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Cornerstones of an Innovation Frameowrk

April 2nd, 2013 by Graham Attwell

Another one from the archives. I think Jen and me wrote this in 2001 but it still seems relevant today, especially in an age when it seems inn0vation is the universal panacea..

“Whilst in organisation learning literature in the late 1990s innovation was seen as the interplay between implicit and explicit knowledge within organisations, in a literature review into innovation Attwell and Hughes looked at the importance of external as well as internal factors in innovation. In particular they differentiated between stimulus catalyst and Imperative.

  Stimulus Catalyst Imperative
 

Internal to Organisation

 

e.g. a new manager who is ‘environmentally conscious’

 

 

e.g. falling balance sheet, falling markets, increasing materials waste

 

e.g. company  going bankrupt or workers strike because of working conditions

 

External to organisation

 

e.g. a rival business opening next door

 

e.g. growing public awareness  of environmental issues

 

e.g. change in primary legislation on environmental issues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stimulus: a specific and particular action or event which provokes a specific and particular response. Typically one off or isolated events which precipitate change.

Catalyst: the presence of a factor or factors ‘in the background’ which speedup the rate of change. Typically these factors will be present over a period of time rather than being ‘one-off’ events

Imperative: the ‘must-do’ situation – an event or series of events that make change inevitable and usually urgent with identifiable negative consequences in the event of failure to change.

Much innovation in the construction industry appears to be driven by an imperative around environmental standards for building with in other cases innovation being driven by the catalyst of new materials and construction methods.

Attwell and Hughes advanced the following ideas as ‘boundary conditions’ or as cornerstones of a theoretical framework around innovation:

  • That innovation is a complex social phenomenon (and is not technologically determined);
  • That innovation takes place within spatial forms and areas – including regions, supply chains, internal organisation units and networks;
  • That innovation is developed in the interrelationships between enterprises and the environment, including suppliers, customers and other ‘knowledge development’ and business support agencies and organisations;
  •  That innovation is dependent on the interrelations between work organisation, workforce competence and technologies;
  • That there are many and complex motivators for innovation and change that may stem from economic, social and environmental factors;
  • That organisational competence and innovation are facilitated by the interplay between the development and use of tacit and codified knowledge and between abstract knowledge and practice;
  • That tacit knowledge is bounded and develops in communities of practice – which cannot be organisational prescribed;
  • That change for innovation is conceptually driven and may take an incremental form;
  • That organisational competence is central to innovation and change;
  • That developmental expertise is central to organisational competence for innovation.

Innovation is not only dependent on workforce competence and organisational competence but gives rise for new needs in competence and learning.”

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