Innovation as Improvisation ‘In the Shadow’

14 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2014

See all articles by Henry Larsen

Henry Larsen

University of Southern Denmark - Mads Clausen Institute for Product Innovation

Marcel Bogers

University of Copenhagen - Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO)

Date Written: December 2014

Abstract

In this article, we explore processes of innovation – which are inherently uncertain – from a complexity perspective, in which they are understood as new patterns of experiences as they emerge in human conversational interaction. We reflect on local interactions between people involved in emerging processes of innovation, with a particular emphasis on the improvisational nature of interaction. Through an abductive approach, by iterating actual experiences and our understanding of them, we show that such processes are collective efforts that take place as informal, highly improvised conversations — happening ‘below the radar’ — which may unpredictably offer windows of opportunity to enable change. We show that innovation often emerges as ‘shadow themes’, experienced as subversive by those involved in the moments of interaction. While these themes are embedded in informal conversations and processes, they can be induced by invitations – conscious or unconscious moves that encourage those involved to make spontaneous moves together in a mutually improvised context. Our experience shows that the emergence of shadow themes can have a long‐term impact on the organization and the people involved, and that managers may be ‘in charge but not in control’ of such innovation processes.

Suggested Citation

Larsen, Henry and Bogers, Marcel, Innovation as Improvisation ‘In the Shadow’ (December 2014). Creativity and Innovation Management, Vol. 23, Issue 4, pp. 386-399, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2526556 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/caim.12067

Henry Larsen (Contact Author)

University of Southern Denmark - Mads Clausen Institute for Product Innovation ( email )

Alsion 2
Sønderborg, 6400
Denmark

Marcel Bogers

University of Copenhagen - Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO) ( email )

Unit for Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Management
Rolighedsvej 25
Copenhagen, 1958
Denmark

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