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Introducing technology and innovation management
Introducing technology and innovation management

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12 Innovation management

Developing an integrated management approach to innovation is a key challenge, as it often involves working with staff representing different disciplines and functions, sometimes from external organisations and sometimes involving customers, users and wider stakeholders in innovation.

There have been several attempts at defining innovation management, of which we only draw on a couple of examples here. An early attempt by Brown (1997) concluded, on the basis of a survey of tools and techniques for managing innovation across 17 European countries, that innovation management was concerned with technology, people, culture, communication and the organisation of business processes. This is also similar to Bartol and Martin’s (1998) early definition of change management, which covers technology, human resources, organisational culture and structure.

In addition, a wide-ranging review of innovation management studies found that ‘the terms innovation management and technology management are often used interchangeably, or rolled into one’ (Igartua, Garrigos and Hervas-Oliver, 2010). This is unsurprising as we note that technology is almost always present in any innovation or innovation process. There are some examples of innovation with a minimal new technology input, e.g. the innovation of Cubism in art. Nevertheless, innovation management is a broader concept than technology management.

In their review of Ben Dankbaar’s work on innovation management, Igartua, Garrigos and Hervas-Oliver (2010, p. 42) go on to note two complementary approaches:

On the one hand, innovation management can be defined as the creation of preconditions to promote human creativity, including strategic commitment and context management. On the other hand, innovation management can be seen as a process to foster the application of knowledge.

Igartua, Garrigos and Hervas-Oliver (2010, p. 42)

Activity 5: Identifying innovation management activities

Timing: Allow 5 minutes

Which of the following areas of management are applicable to innovation management, in your opinion?

Select one or more:

a. 

project management


b. 

resourcing


c. 

organisational design


d. 

external relations and networking


e. 

innovation processes


f. 

portfolio management


g. 

technology management


h. 

human resources


i. 

leadership and organisational culture


j. 

innovation strategy


k. 

marketing


l. 

knowledge and intellectual property management


m. 

performance measures


The correct answers are a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l and m.

Answer

Innovation management involves the management of many different areas, including all of the above (based on Igartua et al., 2010). The knowledge and skills to address this range of activities is, therefore, arguably needed by the innovation manager.

The broad scope and diversity of innovation management activities identified by Igartua, Garrigos and Hervas-Oliver (2010) underlines that innovation management is a core business activity in many organisations that requires skilled inputs from people working across management functions and areas of disciplinary expertise to create value. However, while innovation may be considered to be core business, nevertheless it is a risky core business activity that requires a systematic approach to management (Tidd and Bessant, 2018).

It could be argued that if innovation, change and technology represent key challenges in almost every organisation, then that would mean innovation management is relevant to nearly all organisations. However, the extent of the applicability or use of these management roles, activities and skills will be dependent on the characteristics of the innovation that an organisation is involved in, and its context, which will undoubtedly change over time.