Edited by Benson Honig, Joseph Lampel and Israel Drori
Chapter 11: Constraints and ingenuity: the case of Outokumpu and the development of flash smelting in the copper industry
Prior work on ingenuity under constraints has focused on whether resource constraints and operating limitations help or hinder creativity, innovation, and organizational performance. Although the evidence is somewhat inconclusive, as discussed below, an emerging consensus seems to be that constraints may trigger cognitive and organizational mechanisms that promote creativity, innovativeness and other desirable characteristics. However, what is missing in most prior studies is a detailed 'autopsy' of constraint-induced fruits of ingenuity, detailing the roots and antecedents of the innovation and thereby placing the constraint-induced technological departure in a broader context. Thus, we remain somewhat in the dark about the processes of innovation that constraints tend to promote. This study uses a detailed, longitudinal case study of copper smelting to describe how constraints promoted innovativeness in this well-documented but rarely fully analyzed case. We show that the adoption of existing technological ideas, here diffused worldwide, is an important part of constrained innovation.
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