شعاع مرزهای سازمانی برای مدیریت فرایندهای خلاق : موردی از گروه LEGO
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|2278||2013||10 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 42, Issue 1, January 2013, Pages 125–134
In order to continue to be innovative in the current fast-paced and competitive environment, organizations are increasingly dependent on creative inputs developed outside their boundaries. The paper addresses the boundary spanning activities that managers undertake to a) select and mobilize creative talent, b) create shared identity, and c) combine and integrate knowledge in innovation projects involving external actors. We study boundary spanning activities in two creative projects in the LEGO group. One involves identifying and integrating deep, specialized knowledge, the other focuses on the use of external actors as a source of broad, not necessarily fully developed ideas. We find that the boundary spanning activities in these two projects differ in respect, among other things, of how the firm selects participants, formulates problems, and aligns the expectations of internal and external actors, and how knowledge is integrated across organizational boundaries. We discuss implications of our findings for managers and researchers in a business-to-business context.
In step with increasing global competition, innovation capabilities are moving to the fore in a growing number of industries. As competition intensifies, the life cycle of new market offerings is decreasing, calling for firms to increase their creative capacity. Creativity can be understood as the generation of new and valuable ideas for products, processes, services, and procedures (Martins & Terblanche, 2003). Creative ideas fuel innovation, for this reason, imaginative thinking and creativity are hailed as decisive sources of competitive advantage (Florida, 2002). Due to the recombinant nature of innovation, creativity tends to require the blending of diverse knowledge bases in novel ways (Fleming, 2001). In the current business environment, knowledge is widely distributed, making it difficult for organizations to be creative without external inputs. Involving external actors allows the organization to adopt new perspectives and apply “fresh eyes” to given problems (Jeppesen & Lakhani, 2010). It therefore can help firms to overcome organizational inertia and functional fixedness. Organizations may be able to establish networks consisting of elite circles of external actors capable of contributing significantly to and sustaining the firm's creative processes (Pisano & Verganti, 2008). From the point of view of efficiency and effectiveness and under specific conditions, shifting the locus of problem solving to external actors may be superior to traditional internal methods. These conditions include the modularity of the problems to be solved and the distribution of the problem solving knowledge (Afuah & Tucci, 2012). Many organizations set out to involve actors external to the firm in their creative activities. However, firms may have fundamentally different objectives (Terwiesch & Xu, 2008). For example, they may be searching for a range of concrete and path breaking solutions whose development may involve trial and error, experimentation, high levels of specialization, and high upfront investment from the external partner(s). This involves the external problem solver in revealing real and profound proprietary intellectually property. Alternatively, organizations may want to tap into a broad range of ideas (as opposed to fully-elaborated solutions) to gain inspiration and open up potentially attractive business opportunities. These ideas may be rather fuzzy in nature and require some experimentation and some small upfront investments by the external actors. In this case, the knowledge revealed by the external partners will be fairly superficial. When tapping into creative ideas outside their boundaries, organizations face certain challenges, which, depending on the type of creative search (i.e. for solutions vs. ideas) will require different solutions. First, the organization must carefully and deliberately balance two potentially conflicting objectives. The external input should provide perspectives which go (far) beyond existing firm perspectives, but which at the same time, are aligned to the firm's corporate strategy. Second, the problem to be addressed by the external actors should not be too narrowly framed since this might preclude creativity, but neither should its framing be too broad since this might blur the problem statement. Third, there are important issues related to designing the incentives for participation and transfer of knowledge, and potential intellectual property rights conflicts (Franke, Keinz, & Klausberger, forthcoming). Fourth, the host organization needs to overcome the not-invented-here syndrome, prevalent in many research and development departments (Lichtenthaler & Ernst, 2006). Fifth, since the external partner may have no experience of collaboration with the organization, it may be necessary to establish a level of trust. Trust has been shown to be an important prerequisite for inter-organizational collaboration and learning (e.g. Janowicz et al., 2009 and Zaheer et al., 1998). Boundary spanning activity is crucial to exploit opportunities and overcome the challenges inherent in the involvement of external actors in the early stages of the innovation process. Boundary spanning has been described as “behaviors intended to establish relationships and interactions with external actors that can assist [a] team in meeting its overall objectives” (Marrone, Tesluk, & Carson, 2007:1424). Boundary spanning activities may provide a closer coupling between the organization and its environment (Ancona and Caldwell, 1992 and Choi, 2002). Boundary spanning activities can facilitate knowledge transfer between organizations (Hansen, 1999), promote technological development (Rosenkopf & Nerkar, 2001), and have been shown generally to improve team effectiveness and performance (Ancona, 1990, Joshi et al., 2009 and Marrone et al., 2007). Effective boundary spanning may help organizations to integrate external creative inputs into internal innovation projects. However, inter-organizational boundary spanning activity in the context of creativity processes and outcomes has received little research attention. The literature on organizational boundary spanning focuses primarily on alignment, that is, how to increase coordination efficiency across organizational boundaries (Dougherty & Takacs, 2004). It tends to adopt an intra-organizational perspective focusing on the interface between teams and the organizations in which they are embedded, that is, focusing on internal rather than external boundaries (Ancona & Caldwell, 1992). The inter-firm literature, on the other hand, explicitly addresses issues related to the governance of inter-organizational relationships, but rather overlooks organizational transition such as those that underlies creativity processes (Kragh & Andersen, 2009). Against this background, the present paper is aimed at achieving a better understanding, based on a boundary spanning perspective, of how organizations deal with the challenges that emerge when the locus of problem solving and creativity shifts to external actors. We investigate the following research questions: Which boundary spanning activities are crucial for firms wanting to tap into external sources of creativity, and how does the organization manage these activities in the context of sourcing of external solutions compared to sourcing ideas? Insights gained from addressing these questions should provide a better understanding of boundary spanning activities from the perspective of inter-organizational creativity, and help firms to tailor activities to the achievement of particular objectives. The empirical setting for our study is the LEGO Group. This company was chosen for our explorative analysis because it can be considered to be at the frontier with respect to involving external actors in collaborative creative processes. We focus on two cases: a project aimed at sourcing externally developed solutions, and a project aimed at sourcing externally developed ideas. The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. In Section 2 we develop a preliminary conceptual framework of crucial boundary spanning activities in the context of this study. Section 3 describes our research approach and methodology, and Section 4 presents the study findings. In Section 5 we discuss the implications for theory and managerial practice.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
How does this study contribute to the current literature? In general terms, while much of the extant literature on crowdsourcing for creative inputs deals with success factors at the problem or individual problem-solver level (e.g. Jeppesen & Lakhani, 2010), the governance and design of crowdsourcing activities (e.g. Boudreau and Lakhani, 2009 and Pisano and Verganti, 2008Terwiesch & Xu, 2008) or a contingency perspective of crowdsourcing (Afuah & Tucci, 2012), our study provides a complementary view by exploring organizational issues in the solution seeker's organization from a boundary spanning perspective. In this respect, our study provides a conceptual framework of crucial boundary spanning activities and applies this framework to two different case settings regarding the nature of the external inputs sought by the information seeking organization. Therefore, our study is a further attempt to contribute insights to the contingency perspective of crowdsourcing by studying how boundary spanning activities may be contingent on the nature of external input sought. Boudreau and Lakhani (2009) suggest that there are two opposing generic design principles governing external inputs to the innovation process with “dramatically different” dynamics, with respect to participant behavior and appropriation possibilities. A community mode characterized by plus-sum games and extended collaboration among participants versus a competitive mode, characterized by prizes, rivalry, and clear-cut rules. In both LEGO cases, moments of these forms and their ensuing dynamics are identifiable. However, it is interesting that the collaborative and competitive elements are much more intertwined than implied by the notion of dramatic difference. In the Next Kids Tech case, rules and rivalry were the main mode of interaction used to add an element of enjoyment and “play” into the process, as an underlying premise for participation. This suggests that collaboration and competition is less hard-wired to the underlying arenas. Similarly, Terwiesch and Xu (2008) proposed that clever innovation contest designs – and especially the breadth of the selection pool combined with a performance-contingent award system – can control the level of inputs invested in activities where the chances of winning the contest are small. There are similarities with the breadth versus the depth of the activity and the effort invested. However, the straightforward relationship implied by Terwiesch and Xu (2008) between the reward and the rational calculation of the effort invested by participants is less visible in the cases investigated in the present paper. The roster of potential motivations seems to be broader than altruism or external (monetary) motivators, as suggested also by behavioral economics (Ariely, Bracha, & Meier, 2009). Social recognition among a group of peers seemed to be a strong motive for participation in the Next Kids Tech case, and one that cannot be framed easily as either internal or external, but seems to hinge on social acceptability rather than individual gain. A related, ongoing debate regarding innovation governance to which our case studies may contribute, relates to concerns regarding the choice between open and closed architectures of collaboration, and between hierarchical and flat governance modes (Pisano & Verganti, 2008). According to Pisano and Verganti, these dimensions constitute four modes of collaboration, each suited to different search processes and different maturity of knowledge in the host firm. The supplier case aligns well with the characteristics of the closed hierarchical form (the elite circle), in which the problems are intricate, the solution landscape is “rugged” (Terwiesch & Xu, 2008), and it is depth of experimentation and effort that is required. The Next Kids Tech project resembles that of an innovation community and a broad and non-detailed problem to which an open-ended solution is sought. However, in both cases the models evolve. In the supplier case, the definition of the problem gravitates toward the suppliers, and in the Next Kids Tech case the process could be described as transparent rather than open, with the first part of the process (inviting contributions is open), while participation in the Next Kids Tech event is based on invitation — given the participants' interest in working with a company of high standing such as the LEGO Group. This suggests that in an innovation contest, competitive and collaborative architectures can be combined in sequences, and can be regarded as phases in rather than states of collaboration. Another important insight from our study is that the “contextuality” of the problem that is broadcasted to external actors matters. In the packaging project, “contextuality” was high since the suppliers (potential problem solvers) needed both technical knowledge and rich contextual knowledge about the LEGO production and distribution system in order to find a solution to the packaging problem. A consequence of this contextuality was that LEGO employees needed to engage in repeated and costly face-to-face interactions with employees from the supplier firms to communicate the problem in a comprehensive and appropriate way. The number of problem solvers that could be involved, therefore, was limited. Problems related to high levels of contextuality are different from problems that emerge in a crowdsourcing setting where the contextuality of the problems is low. With respect to the organizational design issue, opening up an existing knowledge base to new inputs is problematic. Hienerth, Keinz, and Lettl (2011) point out that established organizations that mould their new product development processes around internal competences and resources need to re-organize these activities significantly in order to become “user-centric” and make room for external inputs. In the LEGO cases, this issue was dealt with directly, which confirms its importance. In both cases, the LEGO Group's management invested huge efforts to mix internal and external participants and establish “an in-between space” where external and internal providers of inputs could meet on equal terms and exchange ideas. This was most pronounced perhaps in the Next Kids Tech case, where team-building and the competition introduced facilitated the process of internal-external knowledge integration and avoided “not-invented-here” problems.