Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Business culture steers flow of ideas

23.02.2010
The business culture that companies emphasize has an effect on new product ideas that bubble back up from the workforce, a University of Illinois marketing study found.

Groundbreaking ideas spring most from companies that stress technology, rather than customer needs or staying ahead of competitors, according to research that will appear in the Journal of Product Innovation Management.

Firms that focus on their competitors or customers generate more new product suggestions than technology-based companies, the study found. But the ideas typically net only subtle advances, such as the slow evolution of wireless reading devices, rather than breakthroughs similar to the shift from compact discs to music downloads.

“Customer- and competitor-oriented companies are more likely to come up with variations of existing products because they watch their markets closely and react to demands rather than building on breakthrough technology,” said William Qualls, a U. of I. marketing professor who co-wrote the study.

He says the findings suggest that firms are best served by a balanced philosophy that includes all three cultures. While an emphasis on technology bolsters innovation, he said, market-driven firms are more attuned to what consumers want, giving them an edge in commercializing new products.

History is littered with technological leaps that sputtered for lack of effective marketing, said Qualls, who co-wrote the study with Jelena Spanjol, then a U. of I. doctoral student and now a marketing professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Jose Antonio Rosa, a former U. of I. marketing professor who is now at the University of Wyoming.

AT&T developed its Picturephone in the 1960s, but not a market for it, Qualls said. Motorola is behind many advances in cell-phone technology, but failed to become an industry leader because the company focused on innovation at the expense of marketing.

“If innovation and marketing don’t get equal attention, good ideas might never reach the marketplace or firms could sink millions of dollars into innovations that will ultimately have no appeal to consumers,” he said.

The study is unique because past research has focused largely on the link between business culture and the success of launched products, rather than probing the idea stage, said Qualls, the interim head of the department of business administration.

Findings are based on an analysis of survey responses from nearly 200 marketing and research managers who work for companies that make household and personal products, from appliances to skin cream.

“Without good ideas, you can’t come up with innovative new products,” Qualls said. “Firms need to know how to generate as many new ideas as possible, and how to screen them so they have the best chance for success.”

He says the findings lend support for a budding business theory known as open innovation, which encourages firms to use external as well as internal input to develop and launch new products.

Companies that lack resources to generate more ideas by instilling new technology or market-based cultures can instead partner with outside organizations, universities or even solicit suggestions from consumers, Qualls said.

Intel Corp. and Proctor & Gamble Co. are among firms that have bolstered product development through outside alliances, he said. Others are pulling consumers into the mix, including Netflix, which offered $1 million to anyone who comes up with a better system for delivering movies.

“The whole idea of open innovation is that firms need to be able to absorb knowledge from any source, and not just rely on the knowledge it has internally,” Qualls said. “And the more ideas they get, the better the chance that one will click.”

He says the study shows firms that fail to broaden their cultures or seek outside input will lag behind companies that do.

“It’s not impossible, but companies are tying their hands behind their backs if they don’t change,” Qualls said. “Innovation can happen by accident. Post-It Notes and Velcro were accidents. But you can’t run a company hoping for potentially successful accidents.”

Jan Dennis | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht Frugal Innovations: when less is more
19.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

nachricht Europe's microtechnology industry is attuned to growth
10.03.2017 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>