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Deborah Dougherty

While generating streams of new products and services is central to the ongoing viability of many organizations, organizations continue to struggle to become innovative. One reason for the lack of organizational innovativeness is that conventional managerial approaches do not properly incorporate the actual work of innovation processes. The practice perspective explains both how to include the actual work process in innovation and how to organize innovation across the firm. In the practice perspective, knowledge is an ongoing process that is embedded in what people do at work. When work is understood as practice, jobs embody the means and ends of work, practical wisdom, and rich, socially embedded know-how. This chapter first describes the work roles, learning processes, and basic nature of innovation work, and adds the challenges of complex innovation. Then it explains how conventional managing prohibits or diverts the actual work of innovation. How the practice perspective enables people to carry out the process of innovation is detailed next. The practice perspective further identifies fundamental organizing principles for differentiating, integrating, and controlling the work of innovation across all the departments and workers in the firm.

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Deborah Dougherty, Danielle D. Dunne and Emilio De Lia