Understanding Innovation Processes

Understanding Innovation Processes

Sue Newell
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-933-5.ch024
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Knowledge integration is a process whereby several individuals share and combine their information to collectively create new knowledge (Okhuysen & Eisenhardt, 2002). Here we are interested in knowledge integration in the context of innovation project teams tasked with developing a new product or organizational practice. Knowledge integration is crucial in relation to innovation, since innovation depends on the generation of new ideas (new knowledge) that leads to the development of new products or organizational practices. Knowledge integration, rather than simply knowledge per se, is important for innovation because it is not simply the possession of new knowledge that will create success in terms of improved practice or new products, but rather, the ability to integrate knowledge across groups and organizations (Gibbons et al., 1994). This is especially the case in relation to radical innovation, which depends on involvement of an increasingly dispersed range of professional groups and organizations (Powell, Koput, & Smith-Doerr, 1996). For example, in the medical domain there are an increasing number of breakthroughs in scientific and technical knowledge that could drastically change medical practice. Achieving such breakthroughs, however, does not necessarily result in performance improvements in medical practice. Major pharmaceutical companies take, on average, 11 years and a minimum of one-third of $1 billion to bring a drug to market, and over 90% of development processes fail (CMR International, 2000). Similarly, in relation to major transformational IT innovation projects in organizations, many do not just fall short of meeting cost, functionality, and scheduling targets, but actually fail outright (Johnson, 1995).

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