Handbook of Organizational and Entrepreneurial Ingenuity
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Handbook of Organizational and Entrepreneurial Ingenuity

Edited by Benson Honig, Joseph Lampel and Israel Drori

The editors of this Handbook, Benson Honig, Joseph Lampel and Israel Drori, define organizational ingenuity as ‘the ability to create innovative solutions within structural constraints using limited resources and imaginative problem solving’. They and the authors examine the dichotomy between organizational freedom and necessity in order to better understand the role of ingenuity in the success of an organization.
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Chapter 1: The roots of organizational ingenuity: how do qualitatively superior ideas come about?

Aneesh Banerjee

Extract

The ability to continuously innovate has long been cited as the cornerstone of growth and regeneration (Burgelman, 1983). It is also clear that some firms are able to innovate better than others, for example larger firms (Damanpour, 1992), new entrants (Foster, 1986), or firms with access to greater resources and capabilities (Methe et al., 1997). Furthermore there have been studies to understand the impact of internal organizational processes on innovation, for example researchers have studied the impact of culture (Tellis et al., 2009), leadership (Elenkov et al., 2005), learning (Ahuja and Lampert, 2001) and knowledge (Zhang and Li, 2010) on innovation. In contrast to the rich research on these perspectives, little research exists that examines the relationship between constraints and innovation, especially the qualitative nature of the outcome. Why are some organizations able to create innovative solutions within structural constraints using limited resources and imaginative problem solving (Lampel et al., 2011), while others succumb to sub-optimal performance? It would seem that the organizations that make a break from the sub-optimal are often characterized by a 'can-do' ambition in the face of these constraints coupled with 'out-of-box' thinking. It is this rare combination that delivers transformational leaps rather than incremental progress. At the heart of this combination are ingenious ideas that represent a qualitative jump in the nature of the solution and have often changed the course of industries not just the organizations that show ingenuity.

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