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Title: Business experimentation for sustainability
Author: Weissbrod, Ilka
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 9359
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2017
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Carbon emissions and natural resource depletion are associated with urgent, linear timelines and irreversible damage. In contrast, the commercialization of radical innovations is associated with timelines of 20-40 years. These two timelines are at tension with each other and a shortening of the organizational radical innovation timeline is needed to address urgent sustainable development challenges through new product and service offers. This transdisciplinary PhD research investigates the practice of radical innovation in large firms. It generates insights on how firms pursue explorative innovation activities with the goal of creating social and environmental value whilst capturing economic value. The organizational capability of ‘experimentation’ has been highlighted as the key to improve radical innovation performance in established firms. However, the details of what the experimentation capability might be, and entail in the context of sustainable development challenges is unknown. Furthermore, how experimentation may address the contrasting timelines of organizational innovation and sustainable development challenges has not been explored. To address this gap in the knowledge, this research gathered qualitative data from leading practitioners through semi-structured interviews, followed by an in-depth case study. The insights generated through the data analysis contribute to knowledge in the strategic management and sustainability literature. This research offers a descriptive framework on how firms might build on the innovation process used in lean startup thinking to shorten the radical innovation timeline with the view to develop products and services that create environmental and social value whilst capturing economic value.
Supervisor: Tennant, Mike Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council ; European Union
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral