Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

Who Initiates and Who Implements? A Multi-Stage, Multi-Agent Model of Organizational Innovation

Academic journal article Journal of Management and Organization

Who Initiates and Who Implements? A Multi-Stage, Multi-Agent Model of Organizational Innovation

Article excerpt


Innovation researchers have typically focused on either the adoption or the implementation phase of organizational innovation. In the present study, we propose that four agents of innovation (i.e., top management, external environment, innovation, and employees) play distinct roles in the adoption and implementation stages, and that, together, they predict innovation outcomes. We test the phase-dependent process of organizational innovation using data drawn from intensive interviews with 40 executives of a consumer product company. A path analysis of 94 innovations introduced to the organization over the past 20 years indicates that there is a signifi cant level of stability in innovation-driving dynamics. Particularly, top management and employees tend to remain heavily involved in the implementation of an innovation if they played an important role in adopting it. The four agents of innovation play different roles in accruing benefi ts from the innovation. The results also suggest that employees tend to produce positive innovation outcomes when they have been involved in the innovation from the very beginning and are thus responsible for its adoption. The present study makes a distinct contribution to the literature by exploring the multi-stage, unfolding processes of organizational innovation.

Keywords: innovation adoption, innovation implementation, innovation effectiveness, top management, external environment, effi cacy of innovation, employee involvement

Innovation has been widely acknowledged as a core source of competitive advantage for organizations; thus, scholars have investigated various organizational processes and factors related to innovation (Klein & Knight, 2005; Myers, Sivakumar, & Nakata, 1999; Rogers, 1995; Wejnert, 2002; Yetton, Sharma, & Southon, 1999). The existing literature on innovation can be divided into two streams: the variance approach (Jarvenpaa & Staples, 2000; King & Anderson, 1995) and the process approach (Damanpour & Schneider, 2006; Greenhalgh, Robert, Bate, Macfarlane, & Kyriakidou, 2005; Song, Song, & Benedetto, 2009). Studies based on the variance approach have examined a variety of predictors that promote organizational innovation, including organizational factors such as culture and climate (Baer & Frese, 2003; Choi & Chang, 2009), environmental factors (King & Anderson, 1995; Pierce & Delbecq, 1977), properties of the innovation (Klein & Knight, 2005; Sharma & Yetton, 2003), and individual characteristics and innovation receptivity (Jones, Jimmieson, & Griffi ths, 2005; Klein & Sorra, 1996). The process perspective, in contrast, attempts to provide a detailed account of the complex developmental processes underlying an innovation (Holl & Hord, 1987; Kwon & Zmud, 1987; Myer & Goes, 1988; Rogers, 1995; Van de Ven, Polley, Garud, & Venkataraman, 1999).

Scholars of the variance approach rely mostly on quantitative data collected from a number of innovations involving multiple organizations (e.g., Dougherty & Hardy, 1996; Higgs & Rowland, 2005), whereas those taking the process approach largely depend on qualitative case studies around a small number of innovations (or even a single innovation; e.g., Denis, Hebert, Langley, Lozeau, & Trottier, 2002; Fitzgerald, Ferlie, Wood, & Hawkins, 1997). These different research orientations may be the reason the existing literature provides only a limited understanding of the developmental process involving multiple innovations. Given that innovation is a complex, multi-phase phenomenon (Damanpour & Schneider, 2006; Myer & Goes, 1988), the stage-dependent processes of innovation must be considered using quantitative data based on multiple innovations.

In this study, taking the view that innovation is a multi-event phenomenon (Greenhalgh et al., 2005), we examine organizational innovation at two different stages: adoption and implementation. …

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