Attributive Idea Evaluation: A New Idea Evaluation Method for Corporate Open Innovation Communities

Attributive Idea Evaluation: A New Idea Evaluation Method for Corporate Open Innovation Communities

Sven Schwarz (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany) and Freimut Bodendorf (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/ijkbo.2012010105
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Abstract

This article introduces a new idea evaluation method, named “Attributive Idea Evaluation” (AIE), for corporate open innovation communities. AIE aims on the contextual integration of all employees’ knowledge and is based on twenty attributes. Assigning these attributes to ideas facilitates intuitive evaluations. Ranking different ideas is enabled by enclosing corresponding numerical values, correlating to success potential. The method generated convincing results when utilized to evaluate innovation ideas within a large German service company, fulfilling most of the requirements for evaluating ideas in early phases of the innovation management process. Additional discussions with the participants and an expert interview confirmed AIE’s utility, usability, and reliability.
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Introduction

Innovations are the prime source for companies to gain competitive advantages and growth (Chesbrough, 2006; Kerka et al., 2009). Therefore, it is essential to implement effective innovation management processes. Lin and Wu (2010) examined the strategic role of a firm’s knowledge depth and revealed that the knowledge basis is important for competitive advantage. Over the last years a shift from internally generated and developed ideas towards an opening of innovation activities across the boundaries of companies was realized. This is described by the term ‘open innovation’ (Chesbrough, 2003; Gassman & Enkel, 2006). Nevertheless, latest studies in the field of innovation management indicate another shift towards corporate open innovation. Companies realize that within their company, but outside their departments traditionally responsible for development (e.g., the R&D department) exists substantial potential to contribute to innovation management. Thus, the integration and motivation of employees apart from the departments traditionally responsible for development, so called peripheral inside innovators, to participate in the innovation management process receives more attention (Neyer et al., 2009). Hence, the overall focus of the paper at hand is innovation management within corporate open innovation communities.

In general, innovation management processes comprise four generic phases: the generation and collection, the development, the evaluation, and the selection of innovation ideas (Bothos et al., 2008). One of the most critical phases in this process is the selection of innovation ideas. It is responsible for the allocation of resources which are limited in companies and can therefore not be wasted in the development of unpromising ideas (Cooper, 1985; Justel et al., 2007). Reviewing existing research literature shows that only a small percentage of initial ideas attain commercial success. Roughly 6% of all official ideas and 14% of the promising ideas that reach the development phase become a commercial success (Kerka et al., 2009; Liberatore & Stylianou, 1995). Hence, the evaluation of innovation ideas is important for effective selection, as it provides the foundation through the investigation of innovation ideas. Recent findings from Kerka et al. (2009) indicate a lack of research in the field of idea evaluation. First, it is reported that the special issue of how to design and integrate evaluation tools has received comparably less research attention. Second, evaluation methods need to be selected with respect to the maturity of ideas. A relevant problem is that ideas with low maturity levels are evaluated in exactly the same way as ideas with high maturity levels. Closely connected to this is the third finding, saying that financial evaluation is demanded too soon in the innovation management process. Fourth, one of the top ten problems in evaluating innovation ideas is that appropriate evaluation instruments are missing. This applies especially to evaluation in the early phases of the innovation management process, as many evaluation methods are simply not up to deal with the special characteristics of the fuzzy front end.

To help close these gaps in the field of idea evaluation within corporate open innovation communities, a new idea evaluation method, the so called Attributive Idea Evaluation (AIE) was developed. This method aims at integrating company-wide knowledge into idea evaluation. Therefore, AIE provides a framework to evaluate innovation ideas through the interaction of multiple participants, which allows an evaluation using the whole knowledge base of a company. Idea evaluation will be enhanced within the firm as multiple aspects and views on ideas are included, enabling the contextual integration of all employees’ knowledge (Reinhardt et al., 2010).

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