How Innovation Management Techniques Support an Open Innovation Strategy: The Use of Innovation Management Techniques Can Help Managers of Small to Medium-Sized Companies to Establish a Well-Structured Open Innovation Strategy

Article excerpt

Several decades of research into innovation management have failed to provide clear and consistent findings or coherent advice for managers (1), mainly because the concept is frequently disaggregated into component parts. At the business level, the need for understanding and managing innovation appears to be widespread and enduring. Managers have long reported that management of innovation is a central concern in managing their enterprises (2). An Arthur D. Little survey of 669 global executives conducted in the late 1990s concluded that "fewer than one in four managers believe they have fully mastered the art of deriving business value from innovation" (3, p. 11). Even today, innovation is identified as a more important strategic challenge than e-business or even globalization (4). Open innovation, with the increased complexity introduced by a greater interdependence among firms, has increased the need to master the management of innovation (5).

In response to the need to understand the effectiveness of innovation actions, there have been frequent proposals for tools or techniques to measure aspects of the management of innovation. However, the treatment of innovation in these approaches is fragmented (6), and as a result, empirical studies have found that many organizations tend to focus only on measuring inputs and outputs of innovation in terms of spending, speed to market, and the number of new products, ignoring the intermediate processes. Adams, Bessant, and Phelps (6) attempt to address this gap by proposing a synthesized framework for the innovation management process consisting of seven categories that integrate 19 areas to be managed. The use of systems and tools appears among these as an important input to the innovation process. These can be of various sorts, including tools and techniques for promoting creativity or managing technology or systems of quality control ranging from informal methods to specific techniques such as total quality management (TQM). Innovation management tools are key in the management of open innovation, which brings greater interface demands and a greater organizational ability to absorb information and assess the impressions from the outside. Managing these additional demands makes it essential for companies to use the right tools to help manage the inherent complexities (7).

In this article, we examine the role of innovation management tools (IMTs) in R&D strategic planning, especially for small and medium-sized companies, and the organizational changes needed to adapt to collaborative innovation models, where there is a need to forge closer links between market information and technology development. This exploration is based on a case study of Orona, a small/medium-sized Spanish company with a leading position in the European lift industry.

Defining Innovation Management

We undertook a review of the proposed definitions of innovation management in an effort to define the scope of the term. This review was complicated by the fact that, for some authors, innovation management shares many similarities with the management of technology, which seeks to maintain and improve the competitive position of a company through the use of technology (8), and often the terms are used interchangeably. Similarly, Gopalakrishnan and Damanpour (9) indicate that some studies tend to speak about "innovation and technology management," bringing together both concepts under one name. Another approach, historically very common, has been to associate innovation management with new product development. Trying to establish a distinction between the two, Durand (10) highlights the importance of managing the development and marketing of new products as part of the management of innovation.

Dankbaar (8) suggests an approach that gathers and summarizes these various interpretations (11-13). The management of innovation, according to Dankbaar, may be examined through two different but complementary approaches. …