The Role of External Involvement in the Creation of Management Innovations

Organization Studies 2014 35(9): 1287-1312

27 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2016

See all articles by Michael Mol

Michael Mol

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Strategic Management and Globalization; University of Birmingham - Birmingham Business School

Julian Birkinshaw

London Business School

Date Written: July 3, 2014

Abstract

There has recently been renewed scholarly interest in management innovating, the creation of new organizational practices, structures, processes and techniques. We suggest that external involvement in the process of management innovating can transpire in three different ways: direct input from external change agents; prior external experience of internal change agents; and the use of external knowledge sources by internal change agents. We ask whether the type of innovation created (radical or not; systemic or not) depends on the use of these three forms of involvement and whether the forms are substitutes or complements. We empirically investigate this through an archival study of 23 major historical innovations, using in-depth data from a large number of sources in the academic literature. We use three complementary methods of analysis: unstructured qualitative observations, correlational analysis and crisp-set qualitative comparative analysis. We find that the presence of external change agents is associated with systemic and incremental innovations; that the absence of external experience is associated with systemic and radical innovations; and that the presence of external sources of knowledge has no clear effect. Furthermore the three forms of involvement act to a large degree as substitutes. We contribute new theoretical arguments for the facilitators of management innovation, demonstrate the usefulness of an open innovation lens to the study of management innovation, show that management innovating is a relatively complex form of strategic process and highlight how the creation of management innovations is similar to and different from the genesis of other types of innovation.

Keywords: external knowledge sourcing, management innovation, new management practices, radical innovation, systemic innovation

Suggested Citation

Mol, Michael and Birkinshaw, Julian, The Role of External Involvement in the Creation of Management Innovations (July 3, 2014). Organization Studies 2014 35(9): 1287-1312. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2804176

Michael Mol (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Strategic Management and Globalization ( email )

Porcelænshaven 24
Frederiksberg, 2000
Denmark

University of Birmingham - Birmingham Business School ( email )

Edgbaston Park Road
Birmingham, B15 2TY
United Kingdom

Julian Birkinshaw

London Business School ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, London NW1 4SA
United Kingdom

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