Project Description

This Fellowship investigates the opportunities and challenges to Dependable Innovation in the context of the network organisation and modular technology production. Today it is no longer sufficient for products and technologies to be innovative, they also have to be dependable (i.e. reliable, available, safe and secure).

 

Technology validation, including virtual and physical testing, is the principal means by which dependability can be achieved; yet, despite its importance, testing remains a neglected feature of the innovation process. This gap is all the more crucial in the face of growing technological complexity and specialisation and increasing globalisation of productive knowledge and activities.

 

The validation challenge in this context is how to verify the properties of products (processes and services) whose design, production and maintenance are distributed across extended organisational networks. This entails coordinating and controlling knowledge and processes across a very diverse range of organisational functional, cultural and geographical boundaries.

 

There is mounting evidence to suggest that managing Dependable Innovation will become one of the great challenges of the 21st Century.

 

Addressing this challenge involves going beyond a purely technical view of dependability to focus on the changes occurring to the organisational context in which validation takes place. The hypothesis is that the shift from a tightly integrated Chandlerian corporation to the loosely-coupled modular network organisation holds important consequences for the dependability of organisational processes and their outcomes. While organisational scholars have concentrated on tightly-coupled organisations, this proposal explores strategies, tools and practices to promote error avoidance and increase organisational resilience in complex organisations that are loosely-coupled, as in the case of the firms selected for this study.

 

This Fellowship investigates challenges to knowledge integration and validation through an interdisciplinary enquiry rooted in Innovation, Organization and Dependability Studies. The analysis is based on detailed qualitative ethnographic research and international case study comparison. While building on previous ESRC Innovation and EPSRC Dependability research, it will develop an innovative research programme that places Dependable Innovation at the centre of the Technology and Innovation Management agenda.

Making Innovation Dependable (MInD):

Validating Complex Technologies across the Network Organisation