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Compare And Contrast A Technical Approach To Innovation

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Innovation has traditionally been seen as technical issue concerned only with machinery and systems. Compare and contrast this technical approach to innovation with the more knowledge-centred approaches discussed on this course. Your answer should draw upon case study evidence to critically assess the value of the two approaches.

Innovation is a key element of modern business. In a world full of modern industrialised nations it is essential for big business to innovate. Ed Rhodes and David Wield identify innovation as; "the implementation of new technologies" (Rhodes, E, 1994, page 79) for a firm to rise above its adversaries and create brand loyalty innovation is key. There are two fields of innovation, Ed Rhodes highlighted technical innovation as "one of the most critical areas for companies' survival and growth." (Rhodes, E, 1994, page 79) However technical innovation is innovation based purely on machinery and systems, knowledge-centred innovation. Knowledge Information is "The creation, evolution, exchange and application of new ideas into marketable goods and services." (Entrovation International, 2006) The process of innovation is based around capitalising on new ideas. There are a few different categories of innovation, paradigm innovation is rare and occurred during the industrial revolution, it is not wholly relevant to this topic as it affects the economy as whole. Process and position innovation are relevant, with product innovation it is simply the creation of a new product. Process innovation is related to knowledge innovation, it relates to the way a service is delivered. Position innovation relates to innovative shifts in a specific market.

(Chris Land, 2006, Lecture 2)

In this essay I will discuss the different perceptions of knowledge and how technical innovation differs from knowledge information. I will highlight which innovation approach is of the most significant benefit to a business.

A breakthrough improvement for a company is traditionally seen as a technical issue, however knowledge-centred breakthrough improvement, or 'innovation' based improvement) is not uncommon. "The introduction of a new, more efficient machine in a factory, or the total redesign of a computer-based hotel reservation system, or the introductions of a new and better degree program at a university, are all examples of breakthrough improvement." (Slack, N, 1998, page 692) Here Nigel Slack identifies that innovation is generally perceived as being a technical issue, however, he introduces a better degree program as an innovative method by a University. This better degree scheme is not technical, it is knowledge-centred.

Referring back to a previous quote defining knowledge innovation as; "The creation, evolution, exchange and application of new ideas into marketable goods and services." (Entrovation International, 2006); it can be said that knowledge innovation is simply a pre-requisite to technical innovation. The goods mentioned by Entrovation International here are more than likely technical in orientated; the services can refer to computing systems. There are few markets where goods and services are not technically orientated nowadays other than catering and food markets. In this day and age and it is rare to find a new innovative product that is not computerised in any form, exceptions include the fore mentioned catering and food markets and possibly the toy market. Behind all technological innovations is knowledge based innovation, without knowledge which comes from scientific discovery it is impossible to convert that scientific discovery into a practical product. There is a famous quote which everybody knows; "Knowledge is power"; Henry Ford is one of the legendary innovators of this century, he emphasised the need for knowledge in management strategies. Without knowledge innovation, in terms of how his business was run, could not take place. Henry Ford used knowledge-centred innovation to control his workforce using new management techniques and used technical innovation to implement an efficient production line, he used two fields of innovation in tandem in order to maximise the efficiency and productivity of his workforce.

"Innovation follows science" (Chris Land, 2006, Lecture 2) scientific discoveries since the spinning jenny in the industrial revolution have changed the way our industries operate. There are many fields of science; the typical view of science is technological, biological, chemical, and physically orientated; i.e. science is tangible and therefore the widely known view of innovations relates to these tangible sciences; dyson vacuum cleaners, the spinning jenny; both technological innovations. Today, there are intangible sciences such as the science of Management, where new theories and innovations on how to motivate the workforce, organise strategies, market strategies and the management of strategic core competencies have revolutionised the industry. Knowledge innovation is creativity and logic put to strategies of how to go about doing things, opposed to technical innovation as creativity and logic put to the research and development of a new product. James Dyson said about innovation, "It's the unlikely juxtaposition of creativity and logic which causes the wooliness and confusion around the term 'innovation'." (James Dyson, Ingenia, Issue 24, 2005, page 32)

(Chris Land, 2006, Lecture 2)

To what does knowledge innovation refer to? There are two perspectives as to how to perceive knowledge; structuralist and process perspective. Chris Land identified

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