Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

How Harmful Is Playing Politics to the Innovation Process and Organizational Outcomes?

Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

How Harmful Is Playing Politics to the Innovation Process and Organizational Outcomes?

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

Creativity is an individual process. It occurs prior to the innovation phenomenon defined as a "group process" and requires certain skills that both individuals, and groups possess. (McLean, 2005). However, it is not possible to talk about innovation if there is no a previous creative process marking the beginning of the process; one which identifies relevant problems and opportunities, obtains information, generates new ideas and explores the relevance of these ideas (Amabile, 1998). Creativity, and therefore innovation, will be possible if diversity exists in the working group and the exchange of ideas becomes common practice among people with different experiences and different backgrounds (Kanter, 1983). Given the above, attitudes such as hostility, arrogance, autonomy, independence and introversion have no place in an organization that requires innovation and creativity at work (Amabile, 1998).

It has been more than half a century since the debate about definitions of innovation began, particularly the way in which it should be evaluated and measured. One of the first authors involved in studying this subject-area was Schumpeter (1934), who made very specific distinctions about what invention, innovation, and the diffusion of such innovation meant. In this regard it is important to comment that the "Schumpeter" approach is one of the most analyzed approaches in the empirical scope, and, as will be mentioned later, this interpretation is based on two factors (size of the company and market power) that frequently lead to a technological innovation (Alaez, 2001).

Some researchers treat innovation typically as a fully-inclusive term, even when they are referring to different events or processes. Additionally, in some research, innovation is described in one dimensional term as referring to a new idea, product or process interchangeably. In some literature innovation is described as a process of innovation (Cooper, 1998).

Robbins (1998) argues that innovation is a special kind of change because thinking of innovation "changes the way we think". While change is defined as the realization of different things, innovation refers to the application of a new idea to generate better products, processes or services. For this reason, innovation has nothing to do necessarily with the increase in budget for machinery or the hiring of specialized personnel, but with other issues within the organizational sphere.

Another, wider definition of innovation specifies that an idea used for the first time by a company or companies, with a common objective, is undoubtedly an innovation (Kimberly and Evanisko, 1981). A different group of researchers believe that innovation is an idea, practice or object that the company or an individual perceives as new (Damanpour and Evan, 1984; Damanpour, 1991). In terms of these two approaches therefore virtually any event is considered as innovation, everything is based on the perception of the innovator, and what varies is the time taken to adopt such innovation.

Innovation has been also defined as "the adoption of ideas that are new to the organization that acquires them" (Downs and Mohr, 1976; Rogers, 1983). However, the generation of new ideas or the adoption of these ideas is only the beginning (Afuah, 1999). To transform an invention into an innovation it is necessary for the idea to become something that customers really want. Having the idea therefore is only the beginning. It is also necessary to find how to process, improve and promote it until you have a service or product: this is the real challenge.

It has also been stated that there is a substantial difference between what is a technical innovation and an administrative innovation. (Afuah, 1991). While technical innovation is limited exclusively to products or services, an administrative innovation is confined to part of the organizational structure and processes of which it is composed. An administrative innovation, being much broader in its application, could affect or not or even generate a technical innovation. …

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