Innovation – How is novelty successfully introduced to the world?

We study the behavioural patterns of people who successfully generate and manage innovations, the characteristics of organizations that provide optimal conditions for innovation, and the business environments in which innovative organizations operate. We enable executives to put our research findings to use in order to generate successful innovation, to manage development, to secure legal protection, and to exploit the innovation’s full potential.

Business Networks and Innovation Success (Seneca 1)

The business network – the relations of a business to external partners – represents an important source of knowledge relevant to innovation-relevant knowledge. The most important network partners are customers, partners in development, associations, working groups, clusters, suppliers, and individual personal connections. An additional company-internal success factor is the capacity to acquire and implement external knowledge. This capacity involves identifying and acquiring knowledge, which is then analysed, interpreted and processed. Innovation management measures can be applied in a targeted way to foster the capacity for acquisition and implementation. This includes, for example, structuring the innovation process from the generation of ideas to evaluation, selection, and implementation. 

The study deals in particular with the following research questions:

  1. How does an interorganizational network comprising several partner types affect a firm’s level of knowledge? 
  2. How and to what extent do in-house knowledge-processing capabilities contribute to the generation of innovation success? 

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Digital Innovation, Organizational Composition, and Innovation Capability (Seneca 2)

In the digitalization context, expanded information sources are changing the way businesses identify promising ideas in the innovation process. Previously, information was obtained internally (e.g., through reports or the warranty status of a product) or externally (e.g., price data or weather data). In a networked, smart world (Industry 4.0), these information carriers are supplemented with information from the products themselves. This research project deals with the research field of innovations in businesses made possible through the application of information technology. To study these innovations and explore this marginally developed research field, we formulate the following questions:

  1. What challenges accompany the development of smart, networked innovations? 
  2. How can the organizational parameters be adjusted to achieve the development and operation of smart, networked products? 

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Process innovation and flexibility management in automotive industry supply chains

Process innovation is a significant lever in improving supply-chain competitiveness. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) promises great potential; however, a systematic perspective of the possibilities and challenges of innovation in supply chains has been lacking in the automotive context up to now.  Additionally, in structuring supply chains, businesses must resolve the fundamentally conflicting goals of cost efficiency and (expensive) flexibility to position themselves competitively in the market. Flexibility remains a central source of leverage for facing uncertain market developments and disruptive changes in particular. This research project studies the relevance and value add of process innovations and the structuring of supply chains in terms of flexibility aspects, using the automotive industry as an example.  

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Individual drivers of innovation (Innovation Champions)

In many businesses, outstanding innovation projects progress through informal channels, driven forward by specific people within the organization rather than based on a formalized process. Such top projects are of central importance for innovation success in companies. Even though there is an awareness that individual people play a central role in generating innovations (“innovation champions”), it remains unclear how this role can be made accessible to systematic management and assigned to a formalized process so that accidental success can transform into controllable outcomes.

The management perspective yields the following questions: 

  1. How exactly and in what context can an innovation champion be utilized within the innovation process to impact the innovation culture and increase innovativeness and innovation success in a business?   
  2. How can an innovation champion be identified and developed, for example, through personnel selection and personnel development? 

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Innovationskultur als Treiber einer effektiven Organisation

Eine effektive Organisationskultur kann einen erheblichen Beitrag zum Innovationserfolg eines Unternehmens leisten. Die Wissensbasis zu den Dimensionen und Treibern einer entsprechenden innovationsorientierten Organisationskultur sowie deren konkrete Wirkungsweise sind insbesondere im Falle von Prozessinnovationen uneinheitlich und stellenweise rudimentär ausgeprägt. Das Ziel dieses kooperativen Forschungsprojekts mit der AUDI AG am Standort Neckarsulm ist es, eine Systematik zur Erfassung, Messung und zielgerichteten Beeinflussung der Innovationskultur unter besonderer Würdigung der Herausforderungen bei Prozessinnovationen zu entwickeln.

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