Academic journal article Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations

Bounded Innovation Management: Mapping the Patterns of Innovation in a Small Software Development Organization

Academic journal article Journal of Information, Information Technology, and Organizations

Bounded Innovation Management: Mapping the Patterns of Innovation in a Small Software Development Organization

Article excerpt


Creativity is an important ingredient in the production of new software solutions. In this research project, the patterns of innovation followed by a small innovative software development company (Organization X) in New Zealand to proceed developing new ideas were investigated. Capturing new ideas, both within and outside of the organization, was regarded by the managing director interviewed as vital to remain competitive and to meet budget requirements. The small organization upon which this case study is based has been in operation for ten years. The concept for the development of the innovative software was developed between 1995 and 2000. In 2001 a joint venture partnership was set up with initially 20 partners. This has since grown to more than 120 joint venture partners. At the same time as the software was being developed and tested, strategic business plans were put in place to bring products to market. In 2002 the relationship with the University was formed with involvement from an academic adviser who performed both a fatal flaw examination and a proof of concept for the software. The University also provided final semester undergraduate students who developed a multimedia application to demonstrate proof of concept as a demonstration tool to potential investors and business partners. The organization is funded by joint venture capital and Technology in Industry Fellowships from the New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology. In 2003 the first secure laboratory was constructed at the University and another team of University students created key software elements for the products. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the University in 2003. Work began on the preparation of a patent for the software and this was finalized both in New Zealand and in the US in 2005. The Foundation for Research Science and Technology continue to support the work being done by partially funding students' work after completion of their undergraduate degrees. Since the study began with only four paid employees, the work-force has grown to 17 part-time or full-time workers. When the data for this paper was gathered there were only four employees: the managing director, the software developer, the marketing and sales officer, and the joint venture officer.

The theoretical framework emerging from the data is a novel approach to illustrating different patterns of innovation. This model is situated within the realm of core systems principles, (Checkland, 1984), but does not rely on other general systems theory models. The model also has the four constructs of role, incentive, outcome and whole system.

The structure of the paper is as follows: first this new model--the Bounded Innovative Management Model (BIMM)--is described; a literature review investigating creativity and innovation within organizations is presented; the case study approach for this paper is discussed; a discussion of the organization with its individual staff BIMM pictograms is described; followed by findings, discussion and conclusions.

Literature Review

The literature was searched for definitions of creativity (McIntyre, Higgins, & Couger, 1993; Oldham & Cummings, 1996; Peterson, 2002), and innovation (Bartle, 2002; Jones & Myers, 2001). Existing theories relating creativity to innovation (Bean, 2002; Jones & Myers, 2001; Kelly, 1999; Rogers, 1995) are also considered. Requirements for innovation (Amabile, 1997; Dewett, 2003; Houtz et al., 2003; Isaksen & Lauer, 2003; Maturana & Varela, 1998; Ornstein, 1991; Peterson, 2002; PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 2003; Research, 2003) including incubation time, communication lines, organizational reporting lines, intuition, mental flexibility, freedom to make mistakes and passion are amply discussed within the literature. Dahlberg, Mallat and Oorni (2003), Davis (1989) and Lu, Liu, Yu, and Yao (2002) all explore the relationship between trust and innovation. …

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