The acquisition and dissemination of ideas: managing the innovative initiative

PhD thesis

Brown, C. 2006. The acquisition and dissemination of ideas: managing the innovative initiative. PhD thesis Middlesex University Business School
TypePhD thesis
TitleThe acquisition and dissemination of ideas: managing the innovative initiative
AuthorsBrown, C.

This study explores the innovation management of acquisition and dissemination, technological and radical, of product ideas. The nature and value of community learning are explored through four functional communities' interpretation and sense-making of their own, and other communities', practices associated with innovation management.
An earlier research study, literature and an initial set of focus group findings, were used to identify four key themes: sub-cultural values, innovation goals, organizational enablers and barriers, and community learning outcomes; linked to functional communities' engagement with an informal innovation community. A combination of frameworks, i. e. `communities of practice' (CoP), organisational and cultural, are reviewed, and an initial community learning process model constructed which is subsequently used to explore the four themes.
Central to this study is the interpretative ethnographic approach and the adoption of a single case participatory action research methodology, which is underpinned by the practice of grounded theory. The critical roles of the researcher and co-researchers are discussed, highlighting the importance of multiple methods of observing and collecting data: focus groups, interviews, observation, action workshops, collection of hall-talk, and documentation such as e-mails, memos, project notes and strategy documents.
The functional communities' value orientations are important to understanding their perceived and expected roles within innovation communities. Changes in the nature of the communities' interpretation of customer value are discussed together with an apparent increased role ambiguity.
Communities' outcome criteria associated with the innovation community are explored with a specific focus on performance, attitudinal and behavioural outcomes. The findings attest to a strong link between the expected outcome measures and communities' mutual expectations of other innovation community members.
Community environment and its impact on CoP are explored through the practices of collaboration, conflict and innovative leadership. The initial findings suggest that the `state of trust' between communities is directly related to the leadership style and the collaboration between members.
The principal contribution of this study was to the development of a community learning process model, which mapped their identities, practices and meanings associated with the innovative initiative and the interrelationship between sense-making and practices. The communities' `legitimacy of contribution' in the case of the initiative was determined by their perspective of customer value orientation and the sense-making of their own, and others', practices. These practices, the research suggests, were influenced by their symbolic interpretation of the shared innovation goals of the innovation community. This research attests that perceived value orientation is directly linked to communities' practices, and the prospective sensemaking of the relationship between practices and outcomes. Hence, desired value orientation is indirectly related to role ambiguity and functional community engagement with innovation communities. Future research needs to differentiate between desired and perceived value orientation and actions.

Department nameBusiness School
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print12 Jan 2011
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Jan 2011
CompletedDec 2006
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
Additional information

Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of Middlesex University for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

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