Managing the Unexpected in Innovation
PDW - AOM 2022
Where do great discoveries come from?
About the topic
Individual & organizational decision-making in the discovery process.
The goal is to explore how individuals and organizations make decisions in contexts where failures are frequent, unexpected events happen, and there are no clear directions. How do scientists and inventors make decisions? How can unexpected events be incorporated into the decision-making? What are the biases and heuristics affecting the decisions? What are the processes behind scientific reasoning? Are they different from the “non-creative” search processes?
Uncovering the role of cognition and emotions in change events
This topic area will discuss the cognitive aspects and emotional reactions to change. Change events entail uncertainty and hence they are likely to lead to failures. What happens when people face these situations? What enables some individuals to overcome the negative emotions that might be related to failed attempts to pursue novel behaviors? What kind of emotions are associated with failures and serendipity? Can serendipity trigger a positive emotional response that stimulates search?
Unexpected adverse events: fault-tolerant learning in innovation
While most theories on learning from failures are based on the assumption that failures should be avoided, this topic area will try to discuss the concept of fault-tolerant learning and how to enforce the ability to learn during innovation activities by bringing the critical aspects of managerial cognition. How do organizations learn in a discovery process? How do they engage with negative feedback? How can they better engage with failures to pursue novel ideas and avoid rejecting them? How do innovation failures differ from traditional operation failures? Does it make sense to think about “aspiration level” when failures are so frequent to be the default option? How can innovation failures be valuable?
Unexpected positive events: serendipity and incidental learning
The main objective of this topic is to explore the ways theories of learning in innovation incorporate the role of chance in science and inventive activities. As Louis Pasteur used to say, "Chance favors only the prepared mind." In particular, "serendipity" is considered the mutual interplay of effort, luck joined by alertness and flexibility (Denrell et al., 2013). In this perspective, serendipity can be regarded as "happy accidents" that can stimulate incidental learning, resulting from unplanned or unintended consequences, which should be differentiated from the most commonly studied problem-oriented learning. What is "serendipity," and how can organizations embrace "serendipity" in learning? How can innovation failures create emergent opportunities for incidental organizational learning? What determines the apparent differences in luckiness?
Unexpected positive events: studying serendipity with field experiments
Is it possible to build organizational processes to “engineer” serendipity? This topic will debate the role of team composition, characteristics, knowledge, and information sharing in influencing the opportunity to capture value and generate novel innovations from serendipity. Moreover, it will also be discussed and proposed using and applying field experiments as an empirical approach
Serendipitous inspirations and responsible innovation: a qualitative study
In this topic, the invited scholar will briefly illustrate a qualitative case of how serendipity is experienced and framed inside an organization, inducing an unplanned shift toward a responsible purpose. This will open the discussion on when serendipitous innovation may or may not be responsible. What is the role of scientific freedom and the ultimate “search for truth” in pursuing socially impactful research?
How serendipity and fault-tolerant learning help face societal Grand Challenges
Solutions to complex societal issues often are impossible to map out in advance, and often emerge from unexpected encounters, mistakes, and “failures”. How can companies develop the ability – and individuals the skillset – to “cultivate serendipity” for innovation and impact, and help tackle grand challenges?
How to participate
The first part (the panel session) is open to all. The second part of the workshop (60 min) will be open to pre-registered participants only. Participants will be allocated to roundtables (“research incubators”) before the event based on their expressed preference, profile, research interests, proposed inputs, and order of registration. Each research incubator will be chaired by one or more invited speakers and will cover a specific presented topic area. There will be the possibility for one “virtual” roundtable, based on expressed preferences.