Meeting the Innovation Challenge
Edited by John Bessant and Tim Venables
10. Accelerating diﬀusion among slow adopters Richard Adams and John Bessant INTRODUCTION While a systematic approach to product innovation has long been recognized as critical for ﬁrms’ continued growth, even survival, many UK organizations overlook or choose not to pursue the opportunities oﬀered from also innovating in their business processes. Emerging from ﬁelds of research and practice in recent years are sets of innovative practices that have been demonstrated to deliver beneﬁts to those adopting organizations that deeply embed them. Included among these are world class manufacturing (WCM) techniques (Schonberger 1986), which have a track record of demonstrable success. Through their eﬀective adoption and implementation, WCM techniques oﬀer the promise of signiﬁcant performance improvements, particularly in terms of exploitative innovation and eﬃciency gains (Stoneman and Kwon 1996; Benner and Tushman 2003; Montes and Jover 2004). However, in spite of this promise, the adoption of WCM techniques has been slower than might be expected. This apparent failure, or reluctance, to adopt and embed has been cited as one reason for the UK’s performance gap relative to important international competitors (Porter and Ketels 2003). Beginning in the 1990s, a series of studies looking to ﬁrm-level discrepancies for answers to international variations in productivity performance has consistently found UK ﬁrms to be slower at adopting process and practice innovations than their international counterparts (see, inter alia, Hanson and Voss 1995; Voss 1995; Waterson et al. 1999; Rigby 2001; Clegg et al. 2002; Lucking 2004; Wood et...
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