Social collaboration for corporate innovation management

Leopold, Helmut and Hutchison, David and Rouncefield, Mark (2017) Social collaboration for corporate innovation management. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This dissertation explores the potential of using social media to achieve a higher degree of effectiveness in innovation management in a corporate context. To date, the general discussion has mainly focused on certain aspects of social media, like for instance the mass-scale networking of users of different self-portrayal and interaction platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Xing, or the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ effect for large-scale idea platforms or as a marketing tool to reach target groups with dedicated messages.The scientific value of the presented PhD thesis lies in the targeted research of the prerequisites that are deemed necessary for the implementation of social media as an in-house communication platform in the context of corporate innovation management. Extensive experience has been gained by the author in the area of technology, product, and innovation management in numerous management positions. The barriers to effective innovation performance within firms which have been experienced and identified are the main motivation factors for this PhD thesis.The key research question is whether or not social media can enhance companies’ innovation expertise if these tools are applied as an in-house information and communication platform. Social media mechanisms are principally based on information sharing. In a corporate environment, however, shared information does not necessarily translate into equal benefits for all those involved. Such a mismatch could lead, according to the hypothesis of this work, to essential drawbacks for staff members, and consequently hinders an effective innovation processes.An essential problem, at least within the business world, is that the innovation process is generally viewed as a linear innovation-steering model and that it is often believed that the simple usage of IT-tools can solve intra-organisational communication issues and even is enough to get access to the always very personal expertise of employees. In addition the intertwined relationship of technology usage and social behaviour within firms is often underestimated. This doctoral thesis seeks to address the essential issues associated with modern knowledge management, innovation management and organisation management, especially in relation to computer supported cooperative work (CSCW), when implementing new online social media tools within firms. To provide empirical evidence of the identified phenomena, a mix of different empirical evaluation methods was applied in a dedicated research project within the real innovation context of AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria´s largest applied research and technology organisation (RTO) devoted dedicated to innovation management as their prime focus of activity. These include the observations of the behaviour of scientists, especially during the project generation phase. Staff members´ behaviour of the AIT Digital Safety & Security Department was subject to thorough observation, including the analysis of over 700 innovation projects, as well as structured interviews with the middle management and online questionnaires for all employees of the Department. Based on this multi-layer research design, the main reasons behind the identified innovation barriers were duly investigated. Thus, understanding the inherent resistance to innovation management processes is key to the effective design of communications tools and for their improved acceptance within a company. Based on these empirical results, the aforementioned hypothesis could be verified. A personal reluctance towards the wider open communication of half-baked ideas within the organisation in general and the management in particular is the rule rather than the exception in innovative processes. Without the establishment of a widely accepted “sharing culture” within organisations, social media will not be able to have an impact on improving the overall innovation performance of an organisation.To summarize, effective innovation management means: i) allowing scope for creativity through the possibility of bottom up freedom to engage and work for the staff members; ii) additionally ensure the possibility to steer innovation activities according to economic and compliance rules, which are usual in the business world; iii) to support the open information exchange with lowest administrative overhead and tools with highest usability; and finally most important iv) to develop a company culture which is based on open information sharing.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? innovation managementknowledge managementorganisation studiescscw expertise sharingcreativityself-organisationonline social mediasocial behaviourcomputer science (miscellaneous)management of technology and innovationorganizational behavior and human resou ??
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Deposited On:
25 Jul 2017 08:58
Last Modified:
28 Nov 2023 00:33