Organisational Narratives of Applied Knowledge in Technology-Based Organisations

Organisational Narratives of Applied Knowledge in Technology-Based Organisations

Margarida C. Piteira (SOCIUS - Research Centre in Economic and Organizational Sociology, Lisbon, Portugal) and Jorge F. S. Gomes (School of Economics and Management of University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJKBO.2017010102
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This paper presents the conclusions of four case studies in technology-based (TB) organisations. These companies have a strong international presence and also represent success-stories of Portuguese innovation, covering the 1980s through to the 2000s. Using a qualitative approach, the authors pinpoint the critical success factors that made these companies a reference in terms of innovation. These cases were chosen as they all recount the successful application of sustainable innovation in social processes to organisations. The research question was: What are the key factors that drive innovation processes in successful Portuguese technology-based organisations? Results show that the lessons learned from narratives of innovation play an instrumental role in the comprehension of social interaction complexities. Furthermore, the study identifies several management practices that highlight the significance of the players involved in innovation. The findings show that a passion for knowledge and its productive applications are key differentiating factors.
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Literature Review

Innovation as a process has been associated with uncertainty. According to Jalonen (2012), uncertainty results from: 1) events in the future which do not follow the course of past events; and, 2) the fact that knowledge of the future is always incomplete. The eight factors which create uncertainty in innovation processes are the following: technological, market, regulatory/institutional, social/political, acceptance/legitimacy, managerial, timing, and consequence uncertainty (Jalonen, 2012). In order to face uncertainty, it is essential to understand the social standards that exist within innovation processes. In this sense, innovation can be designed to be a set of daily activities through which organisations develop meaning and identity (Brow & Duguid, 1991; Weick, 1995). Given the existing definitions of innovation, this study assumes that innovation is a process, which includes ideas, outcomes, people, transactions and contexts. More specifically, innovation is defined as the process through which new ideas are developed and implemented to achieve desired outcomes, by people who are engaged in social transactions with others, in a changing institutional and organisational context (Van de Ven et al., 1999; 2000).

The literature identifies some organisational attributes which are essential for facilitating and fostering innovation, namely: culture, strategic decisions and facilitating structures and internal processes (Burns & Stalker, 1961; Mintzberg, 1979; Kanter, 1983, 1988; Ebadi & Utterback, 1984; Von Hippel, 1988). Furthermore, innovation processes are subject to two types of agents: 1) drivers, which actively contribute to the process; and, 2) context agents, i.e. the factors that create a context which encourages innovation in a more passive and gradual way.

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