What we've learned: Managing invention and innovation

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Citation: Edward B. Roberts (1988) What we've learned: Managing invention and innovation. Research Technology Management (RSS)
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): What we've learned: Managing invention and innovation
Tagged: Business (RSS) management (RSS), business (RSS), management of technology (RSS), innovation (RSS)


Ed Robert's article is a sort of high-level literature review on management of innovation literature. It offers little that is new and, includes pictures and break-outs, and is aimed at a quasi-academic audience but is clearly designed to appeal to non-academics. That said, it provides a nice introduction to the field.

Key points that the article makes is the distinction between invention and innovation. Invention is described as coming up with an idea for a new product or process. Innovation is this process plus exploitation -- usually commericialization but perhaps just first use.

The article discusses staffing concerns related to idea generation, gate keepers, and sponsors, and tends to take an organizational approach throughout with an emphasis. It is very skeptical of of individual-focused approaches (i.e., brainstorming) for increaseing innovation. It supports more structural approaches (i.e., increasing team diversity, lack of long-term groups). It also covers corporate strategy (still an early point), industry structure and life-cycle, and speculates about policy implications.

It covers a variety of research but is clearly biased toward work going on at the technological innovation group at MIT where Roberts is based.