سازماندهی طرح های نوآوری تحت آشفتگی فن آوری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|2370||2013||9 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Technovation, Available online 16 February 2013
Research on the organization of innovation projects suggests that increased project flexibility is a common reaction to high levels of technological turbulence. However, existing definitions of project flexibility are inconsistent and sometimes unclear, and empirical evidence is limited. This article makes an important distinction between flexible project planning and flexible project specifications. A negative relationship is found between flexible project planning and innovation project performance, whereas flexible product specifications are found to contribute positively. This article also examines how technological turbulence contributes to the choice of flexible or inflexible strategies. Technological turbulence can be present in the external environment or can be internal to the firm, when radically new products are developed. The findings suggest that when businesses perceive technological turbulence in the environment they are more likely to adopt flexible approaches to innovation in an attempt to adapt to external pressures. In technologically innovative projects, product specifications are likely to remain fixed while project organization is likely to be adapted to the needs of the project. Taken together, the findings suggest that innovation projects should maintain stable organization, schedules and budgets, but stay flexible about product specifications. Vigilance with regards to external and internal conditions of technological turbulence, which may lead organizations to be more flexible in terms of project planning, is needed.
Environmental dynamics need to be taken into account in the management of innovation (Drejer, 2002), particularly turbulence (Fernández et al., 2010 and Lee and Wong, 2011). Project flexibility has been proposed as a means to cope with high levels of turbulence (Eisenhardt and Tabrizi, 1995, MacCormack et al., 2001, Garud et al., 2008, Levardy and Browning, 2009, Moorman and Miner, 1998 and Lenfle and Loch, 2010). However, definitions and operationalizations of project flexibility are varied and sometimes unclear. Research arguing for flexible approaches mostly falls broadly into two camps with regard to what is meant by flexibility. On one hand, there is flexible project planning, which may include overlapping development phases (Iansiti and MacCormack, 1997), improvisation (Moorman and Miner, 1998), short milestones (Eisenhardt and Tabrizi, 1995), cross-functional teams (Buganza et al., 2009), flexible use of resources (Li et al., 2010) and adaptive processes (Levardy and Browning, 2009). On the other hand, there are flexible project specifications, which can entail practices such as trial-and-error iteration or prototyping ( Eisenhardt and Tabrizi, 1995 and Souder et al., 1998; Buganza et al., 2009; Lenfle and Loch, 2010) and postponed concept freeze (Iansiti and MacCormack, 1997; Buganza et al., 2009). There is also research that defines project flexibility in terms both of practices relating to project planning and to product specifications (e.g. MacCormack et al., 2001 and Eisenhardt and Tabrizi, 1995; Buganza et al., 2009). Because of these different and sometimes overlapping conceptualizations of project flexibility, it can be difficult to gain a holistic understanding of performance implications. Although the theme of technological turbulence is widely included in research on flexible project organization, the source of the turbulence that might contribute to—or call for—the adoption of flexible strategies can differ. Existing literature has focused on technological turbulence resulting from the external environment (e.g. Buganza et al., 2009; Moorman and Miner, 1998) or the turbulence resulting from the decision to pursue innovation projects with a high degree of technological novelty (e.g. Tatikonda and Montoya-Weiss, 2001 and Eisenhardt and Tabrizi, 1995). Even though existing research suggests that project flexibility is more common under conditions of technological turbulence (Buganza et al., 2009; Moorman and Miner, 1998), it is not clear to what extent this applies for turbulence caused by the external environment or by turbulence caused by the type of innovation project at hand. This paper makes an important contribution to research on the organization of innovation projects by distinguishing explicitly between two types of flexibility: flexible project planning and flexible product specifications. As discussed above, both have been included in existing definitions of flexibility, but we posit that they are conceptually different, will be chosen under different conditions and have different effects on performance. Flexible project planning refers to flexibility in project organization, scheduling and budget, whereas flexible product specifications refer to flexibility in the definition of the product to be developed. The reason for making this distinction is the expectation that planning and specifications address different aspects of project organization, with potentially different performance effects. Not only technological turbulence existing in the environment but also the newness of technology to be developed has been identified as an important source of uncertainty in product development (Tatikonda and Montoya-Weiss, 2001). Therefore, we also make an important distinction between external technological turbulence present in a firm's environment and internal technological turbulence due to technological innovation. We examine how both types of technological turbulence contribute to the choice of both types of flexibility. In addition to technology turbulence, uncertainty may also be caused by market turbulence (Calantone et al., 2003). However, our focus is on technological turbulence rather than market turbulence since the implications of technological turbulence for innovation project organization have been found to be more important than market turbulence (Sethi and Iqbal, 2008). Our findings suggest that when businesses perceive technological turbulence in the environment they are likely to attempt to adapt to these external pressures by adopting more flexible project planning and more flexible project specifications. Conversely, a high degree of technological innovativeness, which is likely to result in internal technological turbulence, is found to contribute negatively to flexible product specifications. Like external technological turbulence, technological innovativeness contributes positively to flexible project planning. This suggests that in technologically radical innovation projects, product specifications are likely to remain fixed while project organization is likely to be adapted to the needs of the project. Furthermore, our findings suggest that flexible project planning contributes negatively to project performance, whereas flexible product specifications have a positive effect. A possible explanation is that flexible product specifications can facilitate the adaptation of a new product to market conditions whereas flexible project planning may lead to schedule delays and budget overruns, which in turn may lead to higher prices, later-than-competitor market introduction, and thus to lower project performance. Together these findings suggest important practitioner implications. Practitioners organizing innovation projects should take care to distinguish between the different types of flexibility, and give their teams clear timing and budget targets, but stay flexible about product specifications. They should be especially vigilant about external and internal conditions of technological turbulence that may sway their strategy to be more flexible in terms of project planning, with potentially detrimental effects on project performance.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
5.1. Implications for theory Uncertainty is intrinsic and generally high in innovation projects (Cooper, 2011). Uncertainty is particularly high when there is a high level of turbulence within and outside the innovating organization. Existing research suggests that increased project flexibility is a common reaction to high levels of turbulence. However, existing research is characterized by definitions of project flexibility that are quite varied and sometimes unclear. In response to this shortcoming of existing work, our research makes an important distinction, namely between flexible project planning and flexible product specifications. Both types of flexibility have been included in existing definitions of flexibility, but as suggested by our research, they are conceptually different and make opposing contributions to performance. Our data suggest that the simultaneous adoption of flexible project planning and flexible product specifications is not common since the correlation between these variables is quite low (see Table 2). Thus, combining the two into broader variables for flexibility, which is commonly seen in much existing research may mask some of the effects and may also partially explain the contradictions apparent in existing research. Several researchers have found evidence suggesting that the flexibility to adapt product specifications to changing requirements is important for success (MacCormack et al., 2001; Iansiti, 1995; Iansiti and MacCormack, 1997 and Thomke, 1997). Our findings that flexible product specifications are positively related with project performance resonate with this existing research. Flexible product specifications allow companies to adjust to changes in the environment, including, for example, new developments in technology or shifts in customer preferences. Conversely, flexible project planning was found to be negatively related with project performance. A major criticism of flexible project planning is the propensity to continue to wait for new information, which can result in severe delays (Pina e Cunha and Gomes, 2003). Furthermore, flexible project planning may reduce the urgency for innovation teams to work efficiently and effectively and keep the time spent on a project short and costs low. Therefore, while flexibility in project planning may facilitate the adaptation of project contents to evolving market requirements, it may not necessarily lead to improved performance outcomes. Indeed, our findings suggest that flexible project planning contributes negatively to project performance. This may be seen to contradict existing research that argues that a flexible approach to project planning is more effective than an inflexible approach, particularly under turbulent conditions (Eisenhardt and Tabrizi, 1995, Moorman and Miner, 1998 and Li et al., 2010). However, the apparent contradiction may be explained by the fact that in this existing research flexibility is conceptualized both in terms of flexible project specifications and flexible project planning, while in our research we make an explicit distinction between the two types of project flexibility. Existing research has made much of the notion that flexibility is more prevalent or more effective under conditions of turbulence, but in most cases only one source of turbulence is considered. Turbulence can originate outside a firm or inside a firm. In this research we make an important explicit distinction between technological turbulence in a firm's environment and the internal turbulence caused by radical innovations in technology. Our findings suggest that external technology turbulence is likely to lead to both types of flexibility, while internal technology turbulence is likely to lead to more flexible product planning and less flexible project specifications. The choice for flexible product specifications under conditions of external technology turbulence is consistent with existing research such as that of Moorman and Miner (1998). The finding that internal technology turbulence due to radical innovation has a negative relationship with flexible project specifications may appear to contradict existing research, such as Eisenhardt and Tabrizi (1995), but when we take into account that their research does not distinguish clearly between external and internal turbulence, nor between flexible project specifications and flexible project planning, the contradiction becomes less acute. To summarize, an important contribution of our research to the discourse on the effectiveness of flexibility in innovation lies in the distinction made between flexible project planning and flexible product specifications. Flexible product specifications can facilitate the adaptation of a product to market conditions, and thus are likely to positively impact project performance, whereas flexible project planning does not support this process, while it may lead to delays and cost overruns, leading to higher prices, later-than-competitor market introduction, and thus to lower project performance. Also important is the distinction we make between turbulence originating outside a firm and turbulence originating inside a firm. In particular, we find that while external turbulence is likely to increase the propensity for both types of flexibility, internal turbulence is likely to lead to flexibility choices that may contribute negatively to project performance. 5.2. Implications for practice Our findings suggest that adopting a strategy of flexible product specifications is advisable, but that adopting a strategy of flexible project planning may not be as wise (cf. Olausson and Berggren, 2010). Interestingly, this resonates with the idea of agile development (Dybå and Dingsøyr, 2008), which has enjoyed great popularity particularly in software development (Abrahamsson et al., 2003). Cockburn and Highsmith (2001) describe agile as a strategy that improves development efficiency to make teams more capable of responding to change in a timely fashion and maximizing their throughput. As suggested by research on agile software development, flexibility in product specifications (flexible project specifications) needs to be accompanied by micro-management, day-to-day work controls and continuous reporting on progress (inflexible project planning) to improve cost control and on-time delivery (Karlström and Runeson, 2005), which implies rigid project planning coupled with flexible project specifications. However, simply putting into place formal processes for innovation may not be sufficient since their existence does not necessarily insure that they will be adhered to (Christiansen and Varnes, 2009). Thus, deliberate project management is called for. It is important to insure balance between flexible project specifications and structured project planning (Olausson and Berggren, 2010). For example, in the context of computer-aided design (CAD) systems, Fixson and Marion (2012) found that even though digital design tools may help innovation processes because they allow for flexibility in specifications, these tools also can erode process discipline since they increase the propensity for continued and late changes, simply because they are possible. Cardinal et al. (2011) argue that project performance is not a function of interaction contingency between the environment and project organization as is commonly thought. Instead, the technological environment shapes performance priorities (e.g. meeting cost or time-to-market targets), which in turn influences project management, and ultimately performance outcomes (Cardinal et al., 2011). Our findings suggest that the technological environment does indeed shape a firm's level and type of project flexibility, which in turn contributes to performance. More specifically, the results of our research suggest that firms need to avoid the pitfall of allowing external technology turbulence or internal technology turbulence to push them towards adopting flexible project planning, which could compromise the success of their project. At the same time, if dealing with a project with a high degree of innovativeness, they should resist the kind of single-mindedness in terms of product specifications that could likewise compromise the success of their project. We furthermore find that, unlike technology turbulence, market turbulence is related with neither flexible project specifications nor flexible project planning (for similar findings see Sethi and Iqbal (2008)). Thus, firms may limit themselves to managing the influences of external and internal technology turbulence during innovation. However, as suggested by existing literature, market turbulence may exert an influence after project completion (Tatikonda and Montoya-Weiss, 2001), suggesting that it may not be safe to ignore market turbulence throughout the product life cycle. 5.3. Limitations and directions for future research The empirical data on which this research is based have the strength of being derived from dual respondents. Project managers answered questions about the innovation process, while business managers answered questions about the success of the same innovation projects. The project manager questions were phrased in the past tense, meaning that the project managers were asked about an innovation project that had already been completed. Business manager questions were phrased so that they provided information about perceived project success at a time about 12–18 months after completion of the innovation projects. However, even given this implicit time lag, the data available made it possible to relate project organization only to short-term performance. Ideally, this kind of analysis should include data collected over a longer period of time so that both short-term and longer-term outcomes might be measured. Another potential limitation is that some important category of flexible organization may have been overlooked by the research. However, our extensive review of existing literature allowed us to group the types of flexibility included in this research quite naturally into the two types we propose. Nevertheless, the possibility of a missed dimension cannot be discounted entirely. Although we found a negative contribution of flexible project planning to project performance, there may be specific manifestations of flexible project planning that do work positively. Future research could examine sub-categories of flexible project planning to provide a more complete picture of the forces at work. Finally, as our research was conducted only among Dutch firms, the question of external validity to other countries remains open. This article provides a detailed description of the process used to collect data from a random sample of innovation-active firms in a broad range of sectors as well as details about survey items and variables. Thus, the article should provide sufficient information for replication in other contexts.