Editorial Note

By Delener, Nejdet | Journal of Global Business and Technology, Fall 2006 | Go to article overview

Editorial Note


Delener, Nejdet, Journal of Global Business and Technology


The literature remains inconsistent in theory and findings on research inputs: small, medium or large firms are sometimes more efficient in their use of scarce technical resources depending upon your view and data. Further complicating this debate is the notion of diminishing returns to scale on R&D efficiency and how this converts to successful innovation outcomes. In the first study ,Ettlie and Elsenbach used the comparative data from the U.S. and Germany to demonstrate a curvilinear relationship between size and innovation performance (R&D efficiency as well as new product success). That is, small and medium-sized firms are more R&D productive up to a point (about 1000 employees in Germany and 10,000 in the U.S), and in different size categories (a roller coaster pattern), but larger firms are always less efficient. Marginal returns to size did not matter for the idea sourcing profile in either country.

Another interesting surprise in the data was that firms in both countries exhibited a consistent pattern of exclusion of the first-line supervisor in research or development as a source of new product ideas. Perhaps most importantly, a broad, internal, discipline-based profile of idea sourcing significantly promotes new product success in both countries. In the U.S., it means that most successful new product ideas come from internal sources: R&D staff, marketing and engineering. For German firms, this group was broader, R&D staff, marketing, engineering, R&D middle management and VP R&D. General managers are conspicuous by their absence in this group for product companies in both countries, as predicted.

The curvilinear pattern persists in this conversion process of R&D efficiency to innovation efficiency: for the U.S., firms with about 11,000 employees or less convert better and for German firms (although the effect is not as strong) firms with 1,000 or fewer employees convert best. The magnitude of this difference is so great that it warrants further work (11,000 vs. 1,000 employees), although somewhat moderated by the finding that the effect for the U.S. data in this sample was spread over a range of 4,500-11,000 employees.

Ownership matters in Germany, with private firms being more successful than public firms in converting a broader, internal, discipline-based idea sourcing profile into successful new products. So few private firms (n=3) appeared in the U.S. sample, that Hypothesis 4 could not be fully tested there. This is an avenue for more research, and one of the limitations of this research that could be overcome in the future.

Finally, it was found that firms in both countries exhibit this broader successful, internal, disciplinebased profile of idea sourcing in some but not all industries. For low technology contexts, the positive correlations between idea profile and new product success are significant in both countries, but for the high technology context, there is no significant difference. The tendency for firms in low technology contexts in both countries to favor successful idea sourcing profiles is tantalizing and suggests future research directions.

Historically, most scientific research has been geared to supporting and assisting manufacturing, which was once a dominant force in the global economy. Now that economies are shifting, industrial and economic research facilities need to apply more scientific rigor to the practices of services, such as finding better productivity and efficiency on demand. Unfortunately, this shift to focusing on services has created a small gap, especially in the area of high value services, which requires people who are knowledgeable about business and information technology, as well as the human factors that go into a successful services operation. As a result, services sciences discipline has been created.

The article by Frolovicheva, explores the emergence of service science from the BM perspective. …

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