The Management of Innovation

Posted: 4 Nov 2009

See all articles by Tom E. Burns

Tom E. Burns

affiliation not provided to SSRN

G.M. Stalker

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 1961


Examines how organizations identify and respond to conditions of stability and change and classifies responses as appropriate or dysfunctional. Using case study and historical survey approaches, the authors formulate conclusions about organizations themselves, individual organization members, and sub-organizational combinations of members. These three perspectives correspond to the organization's goals, individual career aspirations, and internal politicking. Technical progress and development of new organizational forms proceed in tandem; advancement in either field augurs movement in the other field. The inventor requires a suitable milieu and new technology enables further sophisticated forms of organization. Matching the rise of modern industrial concerns, technological research and development has been increasingly professionalized and financially supported by large corporations and government. Firms in (then) newly created industries, such as electronics, face a unique difficulty. Unlike counterparts in established fields, new firms in these industries must respond to rapidly changing market conditions without the benefit of a management experienced in the exigencies of that sector. The authors examine common new-industry responses to planning needs. These include the transfer of technical staff to the sales force and assignment of user needs research to research and development staff. Two important organizational approaches are identified. The mechanistic approach, suitable for stable industries, is marked by precise definition of member function and is highly hierarchical. The organic approach is more appropriate to industries undergoing change and is characterized by fluid definitions of function and interactions that are equally lateral as they are vertical. (CAR)

Keywords: Mechanistic structures, Organic structures, Management systems, Employee relations, Organizational structures, Electronics industry, Management decisions, Management techniques, Technological change, Social structures, Organizational change, Organizational goals, Fluid structures, Investors, Technology innovation, Economic assistance, Sector development, Market changes, Resource management

Suggested Citation

burns, tom e and Stalker, G.M., The Management of Innovation (1961). University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership Historical Research Reference in Entrepreneurship, Available at SSRN:

Tom e Burns (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

G.M. Stalker

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

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