Is the world around us influencing our innovative ability?

Oct 18, 2012 | Research/Cooperation

There are divided opinions about what the connection between the world around us and an organisation looks like. Some people are of the opinion that the world around us is nothing the organisation should bother about, whereas others assert that the world around us is an important influential factor for every organisation.

This is the starting point for Bengt Wahlström’s licentiate thesis Organisation, External Signals and Innovative Ability , which he publicly defended  on 28 September at Mälardalen University (MDH).

- The purpose of my thesis was to investigate the interaction between an organisation, the world around us and innovative ability, which I have illustrated with a model, says Bengt Wahlström, industrial doctoral student at MDH and the company Företag och framtid.

The model described in the licentiate thesis contains three parts to see whether and how the world around us influences the company’s innovative ability. First of all, the external signals that attract attention in the organisation are identified, then how the organisation creates meaning concerning the external signals that it has noticed, and finally how the organisation interprets the external signals. The four companies Google, Apple, Microsoft and Virgin have been analysed in the model.

- One external signal that has influenced all four companies is the development of technology, which has resulted in their investing in availability on the internet. Apart from this, we can mostly see differences between them such as the fact that some of the companies can more easily make use of external signals in innovative ability than others.

The findings of the licentiate thesis are that there is interaction between the organisation and its innovative ability, with a particular emphasis on the external signals. The history of the organisation has significance for how the company handles innovative ability today, and that innovative ability cannot be regarded as an isolated phenomenon, independent from the world around us, but must be seen in its external context. In other words the world around us does influence innovative ability.

- I will be using my knowledge and findings from the thesis in the company Företag och framtid. It will also form the basis of my planned doctoral thesis which will be presented in three years, says Bengt Wahlström.