In this case study, the authors propose a model to foster and sustain innovation
in a large corporation. Despite the successful business track record that large corporations
invariably show, their sheer size sometimes hinders their ability to respond rapidly
to changes in technology, market, and consumer preference. It also affects their
ability to innovate consistently. Presented model builds on recent theoretical advances
in the understanding of the innovation process, placing a strong emphasis on the
need for people to interact across business units. The authors also defend the need
for a formal recognition of the people involved in transferring technology from the
concept stage to the commercial application phase. Significant parts of prsented
argument are based on the experience of one of the authors in a large corporation.
The authors begin the paper with an assessment of current perspectives on the innovation
process, identifying the lack of a descriptive or normative model that can guide
large corporations in the improvement of their innovation performance. Building on
the experience of a specific project developed at 3M, which incorporates organizational
novelties aimed at improving the process of technology transfer, the authors conclude
with a new model to foster innovation in a large corporation.