People, Politics, and Innovation: A Process Perspective Defended on Thursday, 18 December 2014

Innovation is often considered the Holy Grail of competitive advantage and growth in modern organizations. Organizing for innovation can therefore be seen as the cornerstone of organizational success.  In this dissertation, I aimed to advance a more complex and dynamic understanding of innovation that places people – what they do and how they do it – at the centre of the process. The two studies in this dissertation both advance novel theoretical concepts and models of the innovation process. In the first study I propose a novel approach for managing motivational states of innovation teams that involves dynamically adapting group goal preferences at key points in the innovation process in order to achieve team innovation implementation success.

In the second study I conducted ethnographic field research to analyze political disputes about control between innovators and managers during the innovation process. I develop and propose a novel theoretical concept referred to as “innovation ownership struggles, which I define as disputes for control between innovators with a strong sense of psychological ownership towards the innovation and managers with formal control over the innovation. I show how innovation ownership struggles serve to expose imbalances in control between innovators and managers so that they can begin to consider more shared and participative control structures that are critical for successful innovation.


team innovation; goal orientation; adaptation; radical; incremental; psychological ownership; ownership struggles; process theory

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