Innovation and Organic Growth

George Day, Geoffrey T. Boisi Professor Emeritus, The Wharton School

Abstract: This project will continue the empirical testing of the joint effects of the two components of the innovation prowess framework (strategic growth-seeking discipline and innovation ability) on the relative organic growth rate, and the application of the findings to innovation management issues. During the coming year this project will progress in two directions:

1. “Grow Faster by Changing Your Innovation Narrative.” Most organizational change initiatives that aim to raise the organic growth rate are failures. The problems start with the design of the change initiative, and then deciding which organization levers to pull and in what order. The objective of this project is to design a change process based on four innovation drivers that set growth leaders apart, and need to be successfully modeled by other firms. We have successfully applied a change process based on system dynamics. The essence of this approach is changing the innovation narrative from “growth-defeating” to “growth-enabling.” An article featuring the 312 year change process led by the CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Hospital and University, has been accepted by the Harvard Business Review.

Another direction for further enquiry is the finding that the most influential innovation driver was leadership commitment to the hiring, development and retention of innovation talent. We are currently exploring this topic with the Corporate Research Forum, Europe’s leading corporate HR research collaboration.

2. “Adapting to Fast Changing Markets and Technologies.” This is the title of the California Management Review article published in summer 2016, where Paul Schoemaker and I proposed a contingency theory to explain why the relative importance of dynamic capabilities varies across firms and industries. This article featured two in-depth case studies (Novartis and DuPont) to highlight the role of leadership, which we plan to explore further with the data base of 192 companies already collected.

Michelle Eckert is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Mack Institute, where she works to engage students, researchers, and corporate partners in opportunities for collaboration. Michelle received her B.A. in Art from Valparaiso University in 2007. Her background includes two AmeriCorps terms of service working to teach mathematics, computer literacy, and job readiness skills to out-of-school youth in Philadelphia, focusing particularly on promoting access to post-secondary education.