If innovation is the principal source of sustainable competitive advantage in business, research for a Charles Sturt University (CSU) doctorate provides a framework for strategic managers to enhance and entrench innovation within their firms.
Dr Ken Long, a business adviser with the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, received the Doctor of Business Administration for his thesis, Conceptualising an organisational innovation capability, at the CSU Faculty of Business graduation in December 2011.
"Many firms approach innovation haphazardly and without discipline, despite its centrality to sustainable competitive advantage," Dr Long said. "Yet these firms appear poorly equipped to implement a comprehensive innovation strategy, as they focus only on incremental innovation and are committed to preserving the status quo."
Dr Long says the 'dynamic capabilities' of managers and management teams are central to the way businesses, in particular, approach innovation.
"There is an increasing momentum in understanding the 'how' of dynamic capabilities," he said. "And there was a need for fine-grained qualitative case studies to look at the detail of how dynamic capabilities are deployed, so we can better understand how these capabilities work in practice, and whether and how they might differ across firms.
"My research analysed three business units in the one organisation, and provides a framework for 'organisational innovation capability' which can be applied in practice. The research examined and explains how dynamic capabilities originate, how firms build and deploy their organisational innovation capability, and how distinctive processes support the creation, modification, reconfiguration and augmentation of business resources to achieve competitive advantage.
"This higher-order capability provides managers with the capacity to manage the various individual component capabilities with their linkages and interdependencies to affect the firm's existing resource base."
Dr Long's research also identified strategic entrepreneurship, organisational learning capability, and alliance building capability, as the essential preconditions for the ongoing renewal of innovation capability.