Innoversity

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Innoversity A Study of the dynamics inherent in the relationship between innovation and diversity Susanne Lamdahl Justesen Master thesis in Intercultural Management M.Sc. Economics and Business Administration and Modern Languages Supervisor: Mette Mønsted Assisting supervisor: Annemette Kjærgaard Department of Management, Politics & Philosophy Copenhagen Business School December 2000 MPP Working Paper No. 6/2001 © May 2001 ISBN: 87-90403-93-2 ISSN: 1396-2817 “Den aandelige Fuldkommenhed kan
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  Innoversity A Study of the dynamics inherent in the relationship betweeninnovation and diversity Susanne Lamdahl Justesen  Master thesis in Intercultural ManagementMaster thesis in Intercultural Management M.Sc. Economics and Business Administration and Modern Languages Supervisor: Mette MønstedSupervisor: Mette Mønsted Assisting supervisor: Annemette KjærgaardDepartment of Management, Politics & Philosophy Copenhagen Business School December 2000Copenhagen Business School December 2000 MPP Working Paper No. 6/2001 © May 2001ISBN: 87-90403-93-2ISSN:1396-2817  “Den aandelige Fuldkommenhed kanligesom den physiske Væxt kun fremmesderved, at Individet jævnlig smeltersammen med, hvad der er fremmed fordet, og tilsynesladende opoffrer sig selvfor at vende beriget hjem igjen til sigselv” Poul Martin Møller, 1837 Spiritual maturity, just as physicalgrowth, can only be nurtured by theindividual frequently embracing what isforeign, and in appearance,sacrificing his own self, in order to returnenriched to his ownindividuality. Poul Martin Møller, 1837  EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Innovation and the ability to create new knowledge constitutes an important competitive edge fororganisations in the 21 st century, and diversity within organisations offers interesting newperspectives for innovation and may increase the ability to create new knowledge. Understandingthe dynamics of the relationship between innovation and diversity, and thereby how innovativepractice may benefit from diversity, thus becomes important to organisations wanting to increasetheir competitive edge; especially in a decade where changing demographics are affecting, or aboutto affect, most all organisations.However, existing theory indicates that diversity is more likely to impair innovative practice, andprovides very little support to findings from practice indicating that innovative practice may insteadbenefit from the potential of diversity. But by making use of a Community of Practice Framework,this thesis provides a theoretical explanation to the findings from practice, - thereby addressing thetheoretical void arising from such inconsistency between theory and practice.The theoretical explanation provided in this thesis to address this theoretical void centres on twonew theoretical findings. Firstly, how diversity may potentially ignite five innoversity drivers seento enhance different aspects of innovative practice, such as: absorptive capacity, requisite variety,network access, creative destruction and problem solving. However, these drivers are difficult toignite due to diversity also giving rise to intergroup anxiety, miscommunication and goalincongruence – thereby impairing coherence, which is important for innovation to occur.The second part of the theoretical explanation therefore focuses on understanding the context withinwhich it is possible for the innoversity drivers to ignite. This understanding is obtained by viewingdiversity and innovation as embedded in communities of practice, as opposed to traditional teamsand workgroups. This Community of Practice Framework establishes how the necessary coherenceis obtained – not necessarily from perceived similarity – but instead from the mutual engagement ina shared practice field.This thesis has therefore substantiated the potentials of diversity for innovative practice, anddemonstrated that the existing theory predicting vicious outcomes from innovation in a diversesetting does actually have a virtuous counterpart: innoversity – both in practice and in theory.  CONTENTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ...............................................................................................................ii LIST OF FIGURES .........................................................................................................................vi 1. INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................................................1 1.1 Wondering why.........................................................................................................................11.2   Setting the stage… ...................................................................................................................21.3   Research question and hypothesis...............................................................................................51.4 Delimitation ............................................................................................................................71.7 Outline of the thesis structure....................................................................................................7 2. METHODOLOGY................................................................................................................11 2.1 Ontological assumptions..........................................................................................................112.2 Epistemological assumptions ...................................................................................................132.3 Methodology...........................................................................................................................162.4 Studying organisations.............................................................................................................172.5 Studying innovative processes in organisations .........................................................................182.6   The Community of Practice model...........................................................................................192.7   Conducting my research..........................................................................................................212.7.1 Process description...............................................................................................212.7.2 Interviews............................................................................................................242.7.3 Models.................................................................................................................262.7.4 Use of examples...................................................................................................262.8 Summing up on methodology...................................................................................................28 PART I: INTRODUCING CoPs, INNOVATION AND DIVERSITY 3. INTRODUCING COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE............................................................30 3.1   Communities of practice .........................................................................................................303.2   Organisations as constellations of communities of practice........................................................323.3   Legitimate peripheral participation...........................................................................................32 4. INTRODUCING INNOVATION…......................................................................................34 4.1 Knowledge ...........................................................................................................................344.2.1 Tacit and explicit..................................................................................................344.2.2 Individual and social.............................................................................................364.2.3 Process and object................................................................................................364.2.4 Defining knowledge .............................................................................................374.2   The creation of knowledge ..........................................................................................................394.3 Innovative practice..................................................................................................................404.3.1 Combination and exchange...................................................................................424.4 Innovative practice in the organisational context........................................................................434.4.1 Innovative practice at the individual level ..............................................................434.4.2 Innovative practice in communities........................................................................444.4.3 Innovative practice at the organisational level.........................................................464.5 Summing up on innovative practice..........................................................................................47
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