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Anja Klaukien, Dean A. Shepherd and Holger Patzelt

This article investigates the role of affect in innovation managers’ decision to exploit new product opportunities—a decision central to the innovation process. The model proposes that different types of passion can trigger managers’ exploitation decisions but that this effect is contingent on experiencing excitement from events outside their work environment. A field experiment with 90 owner managers of young firms located in an innovation context (business incubators) shows that passion for work and nonwork-related excitement levels interdependently impact innovation managers’decision to exploit new product opportunities. Specifically, harmonious passion has a general positive effect on managers’ propensity to exploit. In contrast, the effect of obsessive passion is more complex and contingent on the additional excitement managers experience such that the positive relationship between obsessive passion and the decision to exploit is more positive with higher levels of excitement. These findings extend the product innovation management literature by acknowledging that decision-makers’ affective experiences influence innovation decisions and provide a first step toward understanding the role of affect and passion in the product innovation context. Second, the finding that obsessive passion and nonwork-related excitement interact in explaining opportunity exploitation decisions highlights the need to incorporate contingency relationships in models of innovation decision-making. Third, in drawing on a field experiment and the experimental manipulation of managerial affect during the decision-making task, this article answers a recent call in the project management literature to pursue less common methodological approaches and develop “broader theoretical schema” in order to enhance our understanding of innovation management. Finally, this study also has implications for practitioners because it can help innovation managers understand their own decision policies. To the extent that innovation managers are able to regulate their affective experiences, this improved understanding might prevent them from premature and faulty decision-making.
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Anja Klaukien, Dean A. Shepherd and Holger Patzelt