Title: Continuously innovating the study of continuous innovation: from actionable knowledge to universal theory in continuous innovation research

Authors: Antonella Martini; Luca Gastaldi; Mariano Corso; Mats Magnusson; Bjørge Timenes Laugen

Addresses: Department of Energy and System Engineering (DESE), University of Pisa, Largo Lucio Lazzarino, I-56100, Pisa, Italy. ' Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Via Lambruschini, 4b, I-20156, Milano, Italy. ' Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Via Lambruschini, 4b, I-20156, Milano, Italy. ' IPD, School of Industrial Engineering and Management, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Brinellvägen 83, SE-100 44, Stockholm, Sweden. ' UiS Business School, University of Stavanger, C Strømsvei 2c, NO-4019, Stavanger, Norway

Abstract: Whereas there is a wealth of contributions on the topic of continuous innovation (CI) in firms, there is still a clear need for works addressing how the existing knowledge on combining various types of innovation with operational excellence and strategic flexibility in a fruitful manner. Any attempt to generate actionable knowledge about CI that at the same time lives up to the traditional academic requirements of rigor and relevance poses significant challenges to researchers, calling for a more comprehensive and multi-faceted methodological approach, attending to multiple evaluation criteria and possible revisions of research roles and processes. This paper aims to recommend how to produce CI actionable knowledge and to take the first steps in progressing from this form of knowledge to a universal theory of CI. In doing so, the paper calls for a 'continuous innovation' in the way CI research is accomplished, and aims at proposing some key building blocks and evaluation criteria of a basic framework able to overcome the pre-paradigmatic stage in which CI research seems to be stuck. Moreover, it presents four papers from the International CINet Conference held in 2007 at Göteborg (SE) and one from the 2010 Zürich Conference.

Keywords: actionable knowledge; existing knowledge; operational excellence; strategic flexibility; academic requirements; relevance; researchers; rigour; multi-faceted approaches; methodological approaches; multiple evaluation criteria; research roles; research processes; universal theories; Goteborg; Zurich; Gothenburg; Continuous Innovation Network; CINet; conferences; R&D; research and development; exploration; exploitation; reflection; technology management.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2012.049439

International Journal of Technology Management, 2012 Vol.60 No.3/4, pp.157 - 178

Published online: 06 Apr 2013 *

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