- The Management of Innovation
Edited by John Storey of Open University Business School in the United Kingdom, The Management of Innovation (MoI) consists of fifty-three of the most important social science works on organizational and technological innovation. Predominantly journal articles with some book chapters, the contents of the twin volumes are organized into nine sections that, as Storey says in his introduction, shift from overviews and general issues to more narrowly focused topics. In the former category are three sections: Theoretical Perspectives and Overviews; National Systems, Diffusion and Historic Trajectories; and Business Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In the latter category are the remaining six sections: Technology Strategy and New Product Development; Barriers and Enablers; Managing Innovation through Organization and HR Strategies; The Role of Managers in Innovation; Knowledge, Learning and Change; and Alliances and Networks. Spanning the years from 1976 to 2002, the majority of the pieces originally were published in the 1990s. (The layout of MoI includes a distinct and unusual feature: each piece is printed as a facsimile of the original, so that the original information [End Page 501] such as journal name and pagination appears just below the volume-specific heading information. Simple but useful, this eases the task of using the anthology to track down citations of the original pieces.)
Editor John Storey begins MoI with a preface and an introduction. The latter is less an interpretive essay than a prose outline of the contents, but Storey does briefly discuss some of the subsequent pieces. This helps direct a reader's attention toward key themes and particular pieces. Storey effectively frames his own interest in the topic of management and innovation by asking, "What can be done to enhance the chances of exploiting innovation effectively—recognizing that the endeavor is inherently risky and often prone to failure?" (vol. 1, p. xiii). From one angle or another, everything that follows addresses that question.
Since it would be impossible (and boring) to summarize each piece in the two volumes, it seems worthwhile to point toward Storey's own conclusions and to touch on two main themes that emerged in my reading. Storey winds up his introduction by listing "many reasons why attempts to 'manage' innovation are fraught with difficulty," such as innovations' context-dependency and the inherent unmanageability of radical innovations. Somewhat less satisfying, he also lists some factors that contribute to successful innovation, such as improved knowledge about the nature of innovation and greater attention to integrating technical, sociocultural, and economic factors when attempting to innovate.
I identified two related themes addressed by most of the pieces in MoI. The first is the interplay between the management of innovation and innovations in management. In various ways, many excellent pieces show that the technical (a new product or process) and the social (the organization of a particular firm or the structure of a market) cannot be separated easily or usefully. Indeed, tension between the native qualities of a new consumer good and the inherent qualities of the producing firm is itself characteristic of innovation, not tangential to it. This theme is evident in several of the volumes' strongest pieces. John Coopey, Orla Keegan, and Nick Emler (vol. 2) and Denis Harrisson and Murielle Laberge (vol. 2) adopt postmodern approaches to show how sociopolitical considerations shape technical issues. Rebecca Henderson and Kim Clark examine "architectural innovations" that fit into preexisting design concepts (vol. 1). Deborah Dougherty and Trudy Heller provocatively propose the "illegitimacy of innovation" as a factor in innovations' success or failure: innovators must reframe their work for skeptically conservative audiences, such as managers and consumers.
The second emergent theme is one on which Storey himself briefly touches: the ties between innovation, business strategy, and [End Page 502] entrepreneurship as types of organizational activity. Eric von Hippel's piece on the "The Dominant Role of Users in the Scientific Instrument Innovation Process" (vol. 2) overturns the notion that the agency of managers or engineers is the prime mover in...