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Conference Papers Year : 2007

Managing Concepts Generation for Discontinuous Innovations : an Organizational Creativity Perspective


The concept generation stage at the front end of the process of innovation management is particularly difficult for discontinuous innovation. But research works analyzing this stage are few and deal with incremental innovation. This paper focuses on concept generation leading to discontinuous innovations. We assume that creativity is an important aspect of this concept generation stage. We propose an analytical framework based on the literature on creativity within an organizational context to address the following questions : In what organizational context, concepts leading to discontinuous innovations emerge ? What are the interactions with the environment of the firm and especially the customers during the concept generation phase ? How does large established firm rely on its knowledge without impeding creativity? For that purpose we developed an in-depth longitudinal case study. The company we studied, a large multidivisional automotive supplier, created a unit dedicated to the generation of a portfolio of concepts and to the identification of new innovations tracks. From this, several discontinuous innovations did in fact come. Taking an ethnographic approach, we analyzed the organizational settings in which concept generation took place and the process developed and resulting in concepts generation. We underline four main results regarding the concept generation process leading to discontinuous innovations. We outline that the entity that was assigned specific responsibility for generating concepts leading to discontinuous innovations was articulated to the rest of the firm notably because its members occupied dual roles taking full advantage of experience accumulated outside. The second result was that concepts are generated progressively through five phases. The exploration is guided by value creation opportunities identified on an extended scope. The third result is that even the exploration is open to the environment and especially to the customers at a very early stage. We identified an interaction support tool - the concept mapping - that allowed the entity to communicate its line of reasoning and its method of concept generation more than the concept resulting from the approach. Presenting this type of tool to the customers can be considered a mean of integrating them into the collective concept generation process not in order to test or validate using a process that would lead to a selection or rejection, but rather to gather customer reactions in the same way as those of experts, with the aim of enriching and guiding the process. The fourth result is that concepts generation for discontinuous innovations did not follow the convergent funnel model of generation, evaluation and selection of a concept to be developed by a project team belonging to a business unit. It was aimed at identifying very different concepts in a divergent but structured way and to propose various innovation tracks resulting in very different products. By this research, we provide an organizational insight on how firms generate concepts leading to discontinuous innovations and we link literature and research traditions associated to organizational creativity on the one hand and to new product development and discontinuous innovation on the other hand.
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hal-00659476 , version 1 (12-01-2012)


  • HAL Id : hal-00659476 , version 1


Sihem Ben Mahmoud-Jouini, Florence Charue-Duboc. Managing Concepts Generation for Discontinuous Innovations : an Organizational Creativity Perspective. IRNOP Conference Proceedings, Sep 2007, Brighton, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-00659476⟩


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