E-Collaboration Tools and Technologies for Creativity and Innovation Enhancement

E-Collaboration Tools and Technologies for Creativity and Innovation Enhancement

Jane Fedorowicz (Bentley College, USA), Isidro Laso-Ballesteros (European Commission, Belgium) and Antonio Padilla-Meléndez (University of Málaga, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-676-6.ch008


IT–endowed collaboration within and between groups will catalyze creativity that, in turn, will facilitate organizational innovation and reduce barriers and inefficiencies amongst people working together. This chapter describes the challenges of supporting creativity and innovation through e-collaboration technologies and tools and proposes how future technologies and tools can help to mitigate issues arising from working virtually. The authors discuss how future advancements in communications and information sharing technologies will help to make virtual team location transparent, while improving access to common work processes and information repositories. They call for technology design researchers to include evaluation of how collaboration environments will be used by virtual teams in extant individual, team, organizational and cultural contexts. In this way, the implications of a technological advance on the creativity and innovation resulting from virtual teamwork can be assessed and understood, and generalized to appropriate settings.
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Creativity And Innovation

Incremental change and adaptation are no longer sufficient for achieving growth in today’s world, nor are they good enough to ensure a company’s survival. Product, process and relational innovation are necessary for companies wishing to compete in the global economy. Organizational innovation depends on a company’s ability to produce creative ideas that lead to breakthroughs in what they sell or how they sell. Successful innovation is hard, and companies invest heavily in training, technology and other means to support working arrangements that encourage and reward creative and innovative employees (Ford and Gioa, 1995). Researchers and practitioners still struggle to better understand how to enable, manage and measure creativity and innovation, even though both creativity and innovation have been the subject of organizational study for decades (Amabile, 1982; Burns and Stalker, 1961; Isaksen, et al., 1993).

Reacting to the need for better technology-based resources to support organizational innovation, information systems researchers have also explored how to design software for influencing creativity. The importance of creativity support systems is evident in the fact that the lead article in the first issue of Information Systems Research proposed and tested design guidelines for systems to support user creativity (Elam and Mead, 1990). More recent work on how collaborative environments support creativity and innovation marries elements of organization theory with information systems design (Laudel, 2001).

Both creativity and innovation are difficult concepts to define. Innovation can result from creativity, but the two are not interchangeable. Many organizational researchers agree that creative ideas must be novel, and they must produce value (Ford, 1995). An innovation results from creativity plus successful implementation of the creative idea (von Stamm, 2003). Creativity can be seen as the first step in an innovation process (West, Sacramento and Fay, 2006) and can be considered a precondition linked to human talent (Yusuf, 2009). Innovation may pertain to new products, services, relationships with partners, or production and administrative processes, or it may enable a company to reach the marketplace more quickly than its competition (Damanpour, 1995; Moore, 1998). In simple terms, creativity is a necessary but not sufficient condition for innovation.

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