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Title: Building technical process innovation capability : an intra-organisational perspective
Author: Egger, Philipp G.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6056 9434
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2016
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This dissertation is concerned with the strategic management of process innovations. It explores and describes in what way the technical process innovation capability is built and maintained by R&D and production departments at a world leading motor vehicle manufacturer. It is widely accepted that new or significantly improved production methods are a main driver of competitive advantage for innovative manufacturers and enable both effectiveness and efficiency gains. However, the strategic management of process innovations has been subjected to little research and remains not well understood. This research set out to develop a descriptive model—outlining the used activities, mechanisms and controls to undertake technical process innovation projects as well as the applied strategies, practices or tactics to institutionalise the knowledge and skills—which illustrates the strategic management of process innovations. An IDEF0 (Integration DEFinition language 0) function model was ’constructed’ from 15 examples of current or recent technical process innovations within the Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft (BMW AG). This single-company multiple-case design utilised data sources such as semi-structured interviews, written documents and direct observations and made use of an inductive thematic (coding) analysis. Emerging from the evidence, this research reveals that cumulative learning through a closed-loop control and an appropriate interplay of co-ordination and learning mechanisms is essential for building and maintaining a technical process innovation capability. Furthermore, there is evidence to indicate that a formal system of reflection and contextspecific co-ordination mechanisms facilitate the incorporation of lessons learned and project related experiences into organisational process assets. The main outcome of this research has been the synthesis of elements contributing to the formation of a firm’s technical process innovation capability by means of a graphical concept map. However, due to the breadth of the investigated innovation stage-gate model which starts with a stimulus for innovation and proceeds through various stages of design and industrialisation to an innovation introduced into practice, some areas would benefit from further work. A possible direction to strengthen the empirical evidence is not only to replicate this research within and outside the automotive industry but also to focus on elements of the graphical concept map and to explain and understand their interaction in greater detail.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral