Exploring the foundations of cumulative innovation: Implications for organization science

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Citation: Fiona Murray, Siobhan O'Mahony (2007) Exploring the foundations of cumulative innovation: Implications for organization science. Organization Science (RSS)
DOI (original publisher): 10.1287/orsc.1070.0325
Semantic Scholar (metadata): 10.1287/orsc.1070.0325
Sci-Hub (fulltext): 10.1287/orsc.1070.0325
Internet Archive Scholar (fulltext): Exploring the foundations of cumulative innovation: Implications for organization science
Tagged: Sociology (RSS) organization theory (RSS), innovation (RSS), FLOSS (RSS), peer production (RSS)

Summary (Abstract)

Murray and O'Mahony frame their article by arguing that work in organization theory on innovation has focused on social network, resources, and knowledge flows. They argue that flowing of knowledge is not enough to result in innovation in the core Schumpeterian sense of recombination. The authors argue that it is the cumulative of the innovation that we care about and that should instead turn toward the organization factors that lead to the cumulativeness' of innovation.

The framework the authors offer has two parts. A front end that talks about the antecedents of innovation that, "moves beyond a narrow focus on the legal systems to encompass social and normative mechanisms taht may affect knowledge accumulation." They argue that these antecedents are established across a number of different levels of analysis.

They argue that the antecedents of cumulative innovation include:

  1. Disclosure: The innovator must know what has come before them.
  2. Access: Merely having the information out there does mean that there is the ability to explore, understand, and build on ideas or the ability to build on and combine ieas. This means we can break things down into reuse access and recombination access.
  3. Reward: People need to be encouraged to release the things they find invent, or discover.

The authors argue that these antecedents are established across four levels of analysis:

  1. Institutions
  2. Fields
  3. Organizations
  4. Communities

The authors suggest that access or disclosure may have different effects and can be constructed differently on different levels and provide a series of detailed example to support this claim and to demonstrate the usefulness of the framework.

Theoretical and Practical Relevance

The paper was published as a perspective in organization science because it does not offer an empirical argument. It has been cited 28 times since it was published 3 years ago.