Organizing innovation projects under technological turbulence

Marina Candi*, Jan Van Den Ende, Gerda Gemser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Research on the organization of innovation projects suggests that increased project flexibility is a common reaction to high levels of technological turbulence. However, existing definitions of project flexibility are inconsistent and sometimes unclear, and empirical evidence is limited. This article makes an important distinction between flexible project planning and flexible project specifications. A negative relationship is found between flexible project planning and innovation project performance, whereas flexible product specifications are found to contribute positively. This article also examines how technological turbulence contributes to the choice of flexible or inflexible strategies. Technological turbulence can be present in the external environment or can be internal to the firm, when radically new products are developed. The findings suggest that when businesses perceive technological turbulence in the environment they are more likely to adopt flexible approaches to innovation in an attempt to adapt to external pressures. In technologically innovative projects, product specifications are likely to remain fixed while project organization is likely to be adapted to the needs of the project. Taken together, the findings suggest that innovation projects should maintain stable organization, schedules and budgets, but stay flexible about product specifications. Vigilance with regards to external and internal conditions of technological turbulence, which may lead organizations to be more flexible in terms of project planning, is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-141
Number of pages9
JournalTechnovation
Volume33
Issue number4-5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2013

Keywords

  • flexible project planning
  • flexible specifications
  • innovation project organization
  • technology turbulence

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