How elephants learn the new dance when headquarters changes the music: three case studies on innovation strategy change
Durmuşoğlu, S. S.
McNally, R. C.
Calantone, R. J.
Journal of Product Innovation Management
386 - 403
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Does a product innovation strategy change at company headquarters resonate the same way at different strategic business units (SBUs)? What factors play a role in differing implementation of new innovation strategies? A collective case study was conducted at three SBUs of an international conglomerate to investigate why the SBUs implement the same corporate innovation charter in vastly different manners, both in strategic processes and in organizing for new product development (NPD). This study's contribution to the literature is twofold. First, it develops initial insights into how three SBUs implement diverse SBU-level innovation strategies in response to the same product innovation charter. Second, it extends the findings of previous studies on NPD strategy by presenting how three SBUs reshape their structure and resource allocation, changing various dimensions of their innovation strategy while also fitting the competitive structure in their individual, non-high-tech, traditional manufacturing industries as they respond to the corporate mandate. In this study, several factors were observed to influence a firm when formulating a new product innovation strategy. First, past performance and strategic typology constrain the innovation paths available. Poor past performance limits available resources whereas the strategic typology managers use limits their ability to recognize other opportunities. Next, capacity constraints provide a catalyst in moving toward process improvements. Third, management involvement in the day-to-day implementation of change is necessary to ensure that the new processes are implemented. Finally, corporate performance metrics are quite influential in how SBUs adapt to change. This study identifies that even with the immense power corporate has over these SBUs, some still dance to their own tune, ignorant of their deviation from the corporate mandate because the metric is not sufficient to detect these deviations. This study suggests the use of multiple types of metrics to minimize the likelihood of nearsighted responses to innovation charter changes.
KeywordsInnovation strategy change
New product development (NPD)
Strategic business units (SBU)