Title: The moment of serendipity in technology companies: study by participant observation

Authors: Kazuhiko Itaya; Kiyoshi Niwa

Addresses: Toshiba Corporation Corporate R&D Center, 1, Toshiba-cho, Saiwai-ku, Kawasaki, 212-8582, Japan ' Department of General System Studies, University of Tokyo, 3-8-1, Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo, 153-8902, Japan

Abstract: The paper aims to present key factors for management to promote generation of serendipity in technology companies, from the practical point of view of repeatable and more predictable ways of thinking for preparation of innovation. First, we analysed six cases of 'the moment' of serendipity that had been collected over two years of participatory observation in a Japanese technology company. Evaluating each case from the point of view of collaborative activities, it is revealed that key collaborative activities are different according to the type of serendipity (pseudo or true). For pseudo-serendipity, 'loose communication' or 'informal exchanges among engineers having similar background knowledge' is important. Meanwhile, for true serendipity, it is desirable to show the element technology that is the result of pseudo-serendipity to a 'gatekeeper' operating in subsystems or system hierarchy, and to promote collaborative activities around him/her at its centre. Key factors for management that encourage and promote sustainable generation of serendipity based on these factual findings are presented, as well as considering a strategy for effective and successful collaborative activities for gatekeepers.

Keywords: R&D management; serendipity; technology firms; gatekeepers; research and development; implementation; technological innovation; Japan; collaboration; participatory observation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJESD.2013.051715

International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development, 2013 Vol.12 No.1, pp.72 - 85

Available online: 27 Jan 2013 *

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