Collectively innovating: modelling responsible exposure in heterarchical organizations

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Abstract

Purpose
A model of collective innovation in heterarchies is developed, with respect to innovation strategy, structure and culture in heterarchies. The enabling of collective innovation in heterarchies is conceptualized as ‘responsible exposure’.

Design/methodology/approach
A study adopting cross-case analysis was undertaken with five organizations perceived to have heterarchical characteristics. These included one small company, two medium-sized companies and two larger companies, all were European. Data from semi-structured interviews, a survey of staff and other sources provide evidence of collective innovation practices.

Findings
The cross-case analysis suggests that the management of collective innovation is different from ‘classic’ innovation management. It is more about enabling ‘responsible exposure’ than the management of ‘shelter’ for collective innovation.

Research limitations/implications
The strength of cross-case analysis and conceptual framework validation is limited by the cases being all from the European region.

Practical implications
What strategy, structure and culture for ‘responsible exposure’ may mean can be described. Heterarchies will always be relatively rare, though lessons from how they enable collective innovation can be more widely learned. Lessons for the wider population of organization that combine hierarchical and heterarchical characteristics and seek greater innovation are identified.

Social implications
Collective innovation which requires 'responsible exposure' has implications for the capabilities of managers and professionals concerned with innovation.

Originality/value
The cross-case analysis of innovation in heterarchies is original, leading to the description of a model of 'responsible exposure' for collective innovation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Innovation Science
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2019

Keywords

  • Innovation
  • Innovation management
  • Heterarchy
  • Non-bureaucratic

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