AALTO UNIVERSITY – School of Economics ABSTRACT
Department of Marketing and Management 20.04.2010Master’s ThesisSatu Luukkonen
In the success of innovation, leadership plays an important role. Project leader isusually responsible in managing the innovation process as well as the people in theteam. The innovation process consists of phases that are very different by nature andhence, leadership practices applicable for the development phase may not beapplicable for the front end phase. Thus, leaders of an innovative team need tobalance between different kinds of roles and functions during the innovation process.Although the importance of leadership to innovation success has been discussed, theimportance of different leadership functions and roles of a project leader at certainphases of innovation process have received only little attention. The aim of this study isto recognize and describe the leadership functions and roles of a project leader duringthe front end and development phase.
This study was conducted as a qualitative research and data was gathered throughsemi-structured interviews. A total of seven interviews were conducted for the study.Interviews consisted of upper management and project leaders of three Finnishcompanies. The companies were a manufacturer of office furniture, a manufacturer of elevators and escalators, and a manufacturer of heavy duty cargo transportationplatforms. The study analysis was done by thematic analysis.
The results of the study support the existing discussion of the importance of a projectleader in the context of new product development. Furthermore, the results supportearlier studies about the necessity of conducting various leadership functions andleadership roles along the innovation process. According to the findings of the study,team builder leadership role is the most important role of the project leader during thefront end of innovation. In the development phase, on the other hand, in addition to theteam builder role, also communicator and planner leadership roles were seen asessential for the success of the project.
Innovation, innovation process, leadership, leadership function, leadership role