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Toward exemplary research in the management of technology-An introductory essay
Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
This article examines the current status of management of technology (MOT) as an academic field of study, and suggests what scholars in the area must do to foster its intellectual development. Attacks on the fuzzy definition of innovation and the lack of a paradigm governing the field do not identify what must be done to realize progress. The field requires widely accepted exemplars that permit a transition to puzzle-solving. Without exemplars we cannot identify anomalies, borrow by analogy from other fields, or form a vibrant research community. Some rules of thumb for generating exemplary research are proposed. The papers in this special issue are briefly profiled to highlight the signposts they provide toward exemplary research in MOT. Keywords. Management of technology; Paradigms; Research communities; Theory development
1. Introduction Academics, like most entrepreneurs, exploit gaps that reflect the tenor of their times. When stagflation dominated the economic landscape in the late 197Os, a spate of papers appeared to explain how this could be so. When areas such as Silicon Valley and the Route 128 area of Massachusetts experienced enormous economic growth, academics flocked to topics such as regional science-based development, university-industry partnership, and entrepreneurial networks. The frenetic takeover and leveraged buyout markets of the 1980s may be partially responsible for the upsurge of publications using agency theory to examine managerial incentives. Similarly, recent dramatic growth in the number of scholars who profess interest in the management of technology (MOT) reflects the spirit of the age. This is an area of interest which has emerged principally from the practical needs of industry for trained personnel, not from a breakthrough discovery which has signalled to academics that a fertile field of exploration has become
Correspondence to: Professor Philip Anderson, Johnson Graduate School of Management, Malott Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.
0 1993 Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. All rights reserved.
due to their restricted intellectual range. Crane (1972) suggests that a growth phase is characteristic of most scientific domains. As a result of rapid growth. and it is difficult to employ a mechanistic conception of anything without viewing technology as a key variable. specialties seldom adapt via Kuhnian crisis-and-response. In the evolutionary view of scholars such as Toulmin (1966 ). rather than in a scholarly breakthrough. The cautionary implication is that MOT. exhorting people to construct useful theories may impede theory development. Cautions Van Strien ( 1978). . and scientists abandon fields that cannot produce new approaches to deal with them. 1970). because as older problems are solved. often. As Morgan (1980) notes. leading scholarly progress to peter out. 1971). which may almost definitionally be uninteresting to managers (Davis. the field stagnates. The rooting of this field’s growth in practical demands for trained personnel. its leaders tend to defend their own ideas and resist those of newcomers. may prove to be a fad rather than an enduring feature of the intellectual landscape. or research programmes (Lakatos. sacrificing generalizability and leading to an infinite regress of contingencies. predictive power can be obtained only by taking the particulars of a case into account. creates particular hazards for academic inquiry. making it difficult to recruit new members. though its usual impetus is a specific discovery or breakthrough. Scholarship advances when it is aimed at theoretically interesting anomalies. The burgeoning of interest in this area is no guarantee that it will come to constitute a vibrant intellectual field that contributes to social scientific knowledge over the long term. Without an influx of new perspectives. What is the current status of MOT? What should scholars in this area do to foster its intellectual development and protect it from stagnation? How do the papers in this special issue lead us toward exemplary research in the management of technology? These three questions are the subject of this introductory essay. As Brief and Dukerich (1991) note. like many topics before it. An interest in technology is traceable to the roots of most social scientific disciplines. Yet the emergence of technology in relatively recent times as the primary lever of competitive economic advantage has created a demand for personnel who can help enterprises take advantage of technological innovation. humans organize thought via metaphors. rather. specialists are unable to define interesting new ones. That demand more than anything else is responsible for the growth of technology management as an academic specialty. specialization arises. Anomalies arise. Practitioners require models that predict what will be. practical paradigms have a way of becoming caught up in efforts to improve process consultation knowhow. science progresses through the growth and decline of hundreds of lines of inquiry. Once an area is well-defined.more accessible or tractable.
Kuhn (1970a) suggests that in the natural sciences at least. Not the least of these is the term “sociology” itself. Hence. Current problems of the field Research in the management of innovation and technological change has been reviewed repeatedly in recent years (e. The lack of a paradigm is a sign of an immature discipline (Lakatos. “cell”. 1986). the more power it wields within the university and overall scientific communities (Pfeffer and Moore. Scholars cannot agree how to define an innovation. and “element”) have changed in meaning over time. 1991. innovation research will not advance. but it is hardly fatal. the measures used in innovation studies lack demonstrated reliability and validity. As Kuhn (1970a) notes. Bamberger. Pragmatically. definitional controversies are not resolved by scholastic debate but by the introduction of powerful theories which favor one set of definitions over another. what kind of obstacle is created and what must be done to make intellectual headway. the term “paradigm” has been used so loosely by so many scholars that it is difficult to pin down precisely what the lack of one means. 1989). However. Bryant (1975) cites a long list of terms in sociology whose meaning is the subject of sharp debates. who highlights definitional dissensus as the key problem of innovation research. 1990. Furthermore. calls for paradigm development characterize virtually all young interdisciplinary fields of inquiry. Ultimately. or how to generate a list of innovations. neither of which correctly identifies what must be done to realize progress. Therefore. Kuhn (1970a) notes that basic terms in science (e. how technical and administrative innovations differ. Adler. Disagreement over terminology and fundamental principles certainly hinders the growth of research. “ mass”. the more paradigmatic a discipline is. What is needed is an analysis of the main obstacles that stand in the way of scientific progress in this area of scholarship. there is no need for another mapping of the field. Van de Ven. For criticism of its development has focused on two barriers to further advance. The second line of attack focuses on the lack of a paradigm characterizing the management of technology. Bamberger argues. . 1980). scientific advance cannot take place without a paradigm. for instance entrepreneurship (MacMillan and Katz.g. The first line of attack is represented by Bamberger (1991). The central question is whether a specialty such as MOT can advance theoretically in the absence of a paradigm. It is unlikely that progress will stem from further criticism and debate aimed at achieving definitional consensus among MOT scholars. 19th century chemists were able to share fundamental tools such as constant proportion despite disagreeing about such fundamental concepts as the nature of matter. Until consensus over such basic issues is reached. nor does the present venue provide space for an extensive literature review.2. 1992) and information systems (Van Gigch and Le Moigne.g. 1970).
This includes symbolic generalizations (e. An exemplar is a concrete problem-solution that shows scientists by example how their job is to be done. paradigms never characterize an entire scientific discipline (Eckberg and Hill. 1970a) encompasses the shared generalizations of a specialized community within a discipline. For instance. Morgan (1980) argues that since no one metaphor can capture the totality of organizational life. they argue. a disciplinary matrix (Kuhn. Second. alert to novel phenomena. By doing exemplary problems the student acquires the ability to see several different situations as being like each other. Marxism is not a paradigm. we must distinguish what a paradigm is and is not. models which supply the group with preferred analogies/metaphors. 1975 ). For instance. neither is structural-functionalism. 1979). which states that force . fundamental presuppositions or ways of viewing the world. produces scholars without prejudice. However. 1981) suggest that the coexistence of several paradigms is to be encouraged in organization theory. “action equals reaction”). Pondy and Boje. convergence on a paradigm would be dysfunctional. Hence. The crucial point is that a paradigm is not simply a theoretical perspective or way of analyzing the world. criticize organization theory for closing too rapidly on a paradigm (presumably open-systems contingency theory) and fostering normal science before the discipline has matured. Such theoretical orientations are better understood as themata (Holton. Daft and Lewin (1990)) for instance. Masterman (1970) suggests that it is less important to understand what an exemplar is than what it does. As Harvey (1982) has noted. Building on Masterman (1970)) Eckberg and Hill (1979) distinguish three types of beliefs referred to by the term “paradigm”.g. Is the lack of a paradigm characterizing MOT a virtue or a barrier to progress? To understand why paradigms are crucial to the health of the field. Other scholars (e. theorizing is simply a subjective enterprise concerned with generating one-sided views of organizational life. which is why it is not yet a discipline. and shared values.g. Third. and most important. Kuhn employs the example of Newton’s second law. which is the most central meaning of a Kuhnian paradigm.10 Some sociologists and organization theorists argue that for these disciplines. Unlike perspectives. First. It allows the members of a research community to solve puzzles by using a picture of one thing to represent another. logical positivism is the meta-paradigm that characterizes most work in organization theory and the management of technology. and danger lies in accepting any one paradigm as a more concrete representation of organizations than another. too often the word paradigm is used loosely as a way of constructing arbitrary pigeon-holing schemes for sets of ideas. it is healthy for many metaphors to co-exist. MOT lacks a disciplinary matrix. meta-paradigms are epistemological viewpoints which act as unquestioned presuppositions shared by members of a discipline. is the exemplar. Pre-paradigmatic thinking.
rather than the adaptation of firms.11 equals mass times acceleration (F= ma). Thus to say that MOT lacks a paradigm is to say. Without exemplars. economic situations which otherwise appear intractable. a field is characterized by a “trick”. Masterman suggests that the exemplar interpretation of “paradigm” answers the question that Popperian models of scientific development cannothow do new areas of inquiry emerge? For a pre-paradigmatic specialty such as MOT. generating and solving a large number of puzzles. Similarly the insight that characterizes population ecology in organization theory is that the entry and exit of firms. . in this case a way of seeing that a problem can be solved by applying the second law. Eckberg and Hill (1979) cite as an illustration the cognitive dissonance research program. But in the beginning a combination of insight and technique allows puzzle-solving by applying the “trick” in a number of settings. through mathematization and the development of experimental procedures. this beginning is elaborated into a set of habits that characterize a community of scholars. The insight is that dynamic problems with asymmetric information can be modeled while retaining strict individual-level rationality assumptions. 1970a). To this illustration we might add the application of game theory in economics. that it lacks widely accepted exemplars. and without normal science. The student of physics comes to see that such apparently distinct problems as the rate of fall of a body or the height of a swinging pendulum are all solved the same way. 1970). similar experimental techniques were applied to dozens of situations in which one might expect dissonance. Without puzzle-solving there is no normal science. Once the insight was understood. The “trick” is using backward induction to locate a Nash equilibrium. this is a crucial question. The “trick” is to analyze exit rates with event-history techniques that employ “spell splitting” to examine the effect of time-varying covariates. What one acquires by working through exemplary problems is a facility for analogy. The key distinction between puzzle-solving and problem-solving is that in the former case. may drive transformations in populations of organizations. a field of inquiry can confront problems but it cannot generate and solve puzzles. most importantly. Masterman argues that in the beginning. It has been employed again and again in extraordinarily clever ways to solve puzzles. Later. there is no scientific progress (Kuhn. The details of working out the solution require cleverness and ingenuity. using the second law. it is known that a solution exists. Puzzle-solving is the unique activity that characterizes normal science. but the paradigm (in the form of an exemplar) provides not only rules specifying an acceptable solution but also a tool for solving the puzzle plus a description of how the tool is to be applied (Masterman. 1970a). The student acquires this facility by being shown situations in which other scientists solved problems by drawing an analogy to an exemplary solution (Kuhn. an embryonic technique plus an insight applicable to the field.
First. When the logical extension of the existing paradigm leads to paradoxical results. All sciences. It is the recognition of anomalies that is the cornerstone of genuine scientific progress. This is why paradigms never characterize entire disciplines. Ongoing puzzlesolving occurs only when a group exists which shares a consistent body of belief. The suggestion that MOT needs a paradigm does not tell us what to do. One of the most important things that normal science puzzle-solving achieves is to make it possible for scholars to detect anomalies. to coalesce around this area of inquiry. Third. the theory collapses. As Kuhn (1970b) notes. An anomaly is more than simply a result we did not expect. Following Masterman (1970). students learn where to look for puzzles. without exemplars we cannot detect anomalies. even the most paradigmatic. These instances illustrate the key role of exemplars in getting a field off the ground by making puzzle-solving possible. The only ways to explain it within the confines of existing theory would destroy the elegance of these theories. These are difficulties that scientists in paradigmatic fields expect to clear up eventually. and only in this way do better theories make their appearance. The core argument of this paper is that the lack of exemplary research in MOT creates three specific obstacles to scholarly progress which must be addressed. permitting cumulation and refinement of the paradigm through repeated application in different settings. Through long-term tutelage via exemplar. Why is normal science puzzle-solving based on exemplars a prerequisite for detecting anomalies? The reason anomalies are observed is that normal science has pushed the exactitude and scope of observation forward to such an . In the above examples. it is more important for scholars in this area to grasp what an exemplar should do than to debate what it should be. without exemplars it is difficult to progress via analogy and to provide analogies that would cause other fields to draw upon this one. An anomaly poses a more serious challenge-no dismissal or post-hoc explanation suffices to restore the overall theory to plausibility. 1970). Second. because extended puzzle-solving is not possible at so broad a level. it is impossible for a genuine invisible college. a research community. or organizational ecology directs scholars to seek application of the exemplar. The exemplar directs attention to a set of puzzles that it is well-suited to attack. social scientists cannot improve the status of their field by legislating agreement on fundamentals and then turning to normal science. a paradigm is not simply a theoretical perspective. secure in the knowledge that a solution probably exists if the researcher applies the tool in a clever enough way.12 It has been used to study a wide variety of influences on organizational exit rates. As Eckberg and Hill (1979) emphasize. puzzles are situations where the insight-andtechnique of cognitive dissonance. contain inconsistencies and are unable to explain awkward facts (Masterman. game theory. without exemplary research.
This cannot happen when an unexpected finding merely runs counter to an observation that has been shown to hold in one or two instances. a concrete picture of a thing (A) used to describe another thing (B) (Masterman. there can be no anomaly. but biological analogies have allowed population ecologists to transport highly useful methods and concepts (e. Furthermore. It is also a way of seeing. For example. the history of science suggests that anomalies are usually observed before they are recognized. it is the basis for a paradigm shift. because there is no body of work that applies the same insight to many different areas. It is the ability of an exemplar to help us draw connections between what we know and what we wish to know that helps normal science progress rapidly. In paradigmatic fields. Cognitive dissonance theory. A paradigm is more than just a tool. It is entirely possible that MOT scholars have already produced some of the most important observations of the next twenty years. . density-dependent selection) from one arena to the other. Eventually. Similarly. Pickering (1980) suggests that an exemplar is the concrete embodiment of an analogy.g. Pickering cites the example of a new area of physics which languished for five years until it was demonstrated that well-known methods from quantum electrodynamics could be applied to elaborate the novel theory. scientists wrongly dismiss puzzling findings because they are unable to shed a certain world view. has worked so well in so many situations that were it clearly shown not to hold in a setting where it ought to. and have dismissed them or failed to recognize their significance because there was no exemplar to indicate that they posed critical problems. It is a paper or collection of papers that makes a connection between an established body of knowledge and a problem on the frontier of knowledge. If one does not know with precision what to expect. However. it is easy to attribute (post hoc) surprising results to an overlooked contingency. 1970). It pushes science forward by bringing to bear conceptual and methodological apparatus inherited from a different specialty. mutualism. when an anomaly is explained by a new theory. The second obstacle thrown up by the lack of exemplars is the inability to progress via analogical borrowing. Truly counter-intuitive findings are difficult to imagine.13 extent that one knows with precision that the results one expected did not occur. or account for the discrepancy as measurement error. organizations are clearly not biological organisms. for example. much progress in deciphering the genetic code depended on seeing the code as a language. in pre-paradigmatic fields. we would know we were onto an important trail. and thus drawing upon linguistic concepts such as grammar and syntax. dismiss the unexpected finding as an artifact of inexactly operationalizing a construct. the anomalous observation is not even recognized as posing a threat to a theory system. the persistence of these findings causes someone to reconstruct the paradigm in order to explain them. Without a paradigm. This is precisely the state of MOT (and many social science specialties) today.
1979). a research community cannot coalesce around a problem. In contrast. Such invisible colleges are networks whose members are familiar with each other’s work and with a core stream of previous works that have influenced the definition of the problem class and its boundaries. not necessarily through personal contact. The confines and dynamics of research communities have been studied through co-citation analysis (Garfield. Some research communities become ingrown and isolated: a small group of researchers ends up talking to each other but not to a broader community. Klavans (1991) provides an interesting overview of this literature and of the research communities most central to scholars who study technology management. who interact with each other face to face and often co-author papers with one another. The success of neural science has contributed heavily to the development of neural network concepts in computer science. the Minnesota Innovation Research Program (Van de Ven and Associates. this is termed an invisible college. There can be no paradigm characterizing the topic of technology management. The aim of those who would make MOT a discipline should be to develop exemplars that not only explain how technology is made manageable but which also prove useful for other specialties to borrow as tools for framing and solving a different set of puzzles. Kuhn (1970a) makes the pivotal point that a paradigm governs’not a subject matter but a group of scholars. Asking where the field is and where it is going is simply a shorthand way of asking how the community of scholars who share this specialty is evolving. since its members are tied together by reading each other’s papers. The first is groups of collaborators. There can only be exemplars that provide shared understanding to a group of scholars interested in the subject. The second subgroup is the communication network that links groups of collaborators. Most of the citations to articles in their central journal are from other articles in the same journal. Every research area contains two types of subgroups (Crane. Research communities typically coalesce around a set of journals. 1980).14 Conversely. In MOT. After Price and Beaver (1966). The third obstacle to progress posed by the lack of exemplary research in this field is that without exemplars. which have little impact elsewhere. The consequence-regardless whether they agree upon a paradigm-is typically stagnation and decline. The emerging science of chaos is providing a rich series of models which other disciplines are exploring as ways to explain anomalous findings. They em- . one of which is the most central in the co-citation network. The insights provided by punctuated equilibrium models of paleontology have led both organization theorists and political scientists to propose analogous models in their fields. one sign of a vibrant field is that its exemplars serve as analogies upon which other specialties draw. 1988) has spawned such a group. vibrant fields are densely connected to other research communities.
g. However. What is required is widespread agreement that a particular exemplar-an insight combined with a technique that defines puzzles and suggests potentially profitable analogical borrowings-is a model for research worth doing in a variety of settings. develop useful analogies that permit us to draw upon existing bodies of knowledge. How and where can such seminal problem-solutions arise? There is no formula by which we can produce them. or the establishment of a journal. or if innovation projects were analogous to genes. research communities focusing solely on issues related to technology management (e. One possibility is simply to borrow useful exemplars from other areas. The general problem with this strategy is that the more powerful the analogy is. one could ask what would happen if technology management were merely a repeated game.15 ploy cutting-edge developments in related invisible colleges while producing novel facts and explanations that in turn provide grist for the mill of other research programs. No identifiable invisible college has yet coalesced around the problem class of technology management. and build upon. the less it can support a distinctive . puzzle-solving models are not themselves the solutions to higher-order puzzles. Klavans’ analysis suggests that to date. the management of research and development) have been isolates. Such exemplars are problem-solutions that serve as models which can be applied to a wide variety of domains. The primary reason for this state of affairs is the lack of widely accepted exemplars. A journal or professional organization or social network can facilitate the emergence of that consensus. How can the field progress? Intellectual progress in the management of technology depends primarily on our ability to generate exemplary research. 3. Simple continued cumulation of existing lines of research will not suffice. Hence. We need exemplars to help us identify anomalies. principally devoted to other domains. or if technology could be thought of as a cultural symbol system to be deconstructed. instead. and provide a focus for the emergence of an invisible college which builds upon a core stream of articles while remaining densely connected to other research communities. A research community cannot arise through the establishment of social ties. There is no invisible college in MOT because there is no set of papers that provides a model or guidepost for other research. What must emerge for the field to progress is a body of knowledge which members of a community master. the present situation in which MOT articles seldom cite each other or share common references will continue until there appears some common body of knowledge which one must master to carry out leading-edge research in technology management. refer to. the founding of a professional society. scholars in this area have published their work in journals which are part of other networks.
Fourth. what the mainstream is doing. Second. but cannot borrow them wholesale. for maximizing discoveries. Fifth. we cannot know what observations have been made. The discoverers of plate tectonics focused on the sea bed while most other geologists concentrated exclusively on the land. Third. seek areas where theory and data appear to contradict. not to criticize or emulate the mainstream but to ask what is being overlooked. Any mapping of a . First. we may turn to recent works examining the psychology and sociology of discovering. Third. Sixth. previously well-plowed fields that have been abandoned can be fertile sources of discovery later. For guidance on how to do exemplary research. No clear picture has emerged that ties together a large number of diverse discoveries. Second. Oliver (1991) provides a rich illustration of one of the great paradigm shifts of this century. First. the first geologists to explore the sea bed were almost assured of finding something interesting (and in fact anomalies discovered on the ocean floor led to plate tectonics). he urges scholars to learn what the majority of scholars in an area are doing. MOT would simply become a topic area within economics. Of these. the emergence of plate tectonics as the dominant way of viewing geology. where different lines of inquiry might intersect. he argues that the most consistently successful way to make discoveries is to bring instruments and measurement techniques from one branch of science into a different branch for the first time. Suppose for example that all problems in technology management could be modeled game-theoretically as economic choices. within what areas ignorance is maximal or change has been most rapid. especially where the contradiction has been smoothed over in an ad hoc way. look for what is said to be impossible. For example. he suggests that new observations of important phenomena almost always produce surprise and discovery. Applying these heuristics to MOT requires us to specify roughly what the domain of the field is. Root-Bernstein (1989) articulates no fewer than 43 principles. but some interesting rules of thumb have been proposed. This line of research has been pioneered principally by historians and philosophers of science. areas undergoing rapid change are most likely to produce breakthroughs. Genuine academic specialties can seek inspiration from exemplars in other areas. From his experience as a geologist.16 academic specialty. what are its boundaries. Again he emphasizes that the ability to observe phenomena no one else has ever seen is the most likely way to produce an exemplary discovery. he emphasizes the importance of original observation. who have asked whether there is a pattern to insightful discoveries across scientific disciplines and problem areas. six seem to be most useful for MOT scholars. look for the intersection of different lines of inquiry. he suggests that discoveries are most likely in areas of greatest ignorance. or rules of thumb. Without an idea what the field contains. when new techniques and insights allow us to view them in fresh ways.
perhaps by using instruments imported from other branches of science. shoveling dirt is a technology. At the organizational level. process innovation should exceed product innovation. most attention is . l Seek that which is being overlooked. Illustrative topics include how technology evolves. explore the sea bed when others are exploring the land. Narrowly. By incorporating engineering and technology management. or transferring knowhow from one area to another. organizing an R&D laboratory. how standards emerge. technologies need to be managed when there are alternative ways of effecting a product or process and technical exploration is required to understand the nature and limits of the alternatives. how different technologies interact synergistically. designing products for manufacturability. and how technological change alters market and competitor relationships. At the strategic level. MOT principally addresses three levels of analysis: who carries out technical exploration. The principal question is what practices optimize the innovative capability of individuals involved in technical exploration. At the individual level. and what its impact is on the organization and its environment. At the organizational level. yet no one has created a metric by which this assertion could be tested. for example. We further restrict our domain to cases where some uncertainty and choice are involved. as with most mapping exercises. illustrative topics include managing technical careers. Certainly no claim is made that the picture presented here is objective or comprehensive. Illustrative topics include managing a cross-functional technology development team. how technology affects the organization-environment ‘fit. motivating technical professionals. a long-standing model suggests that following the emergence of a dominant design. how it is carried out. In which of these areas is exemplary research most likely to appear. and renewing capabilities and competences. how technological substitution takes place. and how may we improve the odds of doing exemplary research? A useful heuristic might be to apply rules of thumb for . At the first level of analysis. efforts to track the explicit timing and sequence of events (e.g. MOT focuses on individual actors and their decision patterns. MOT concentrates on ways of organizing technical exploration routines. generating discoveries to the general areas of study outlined above: l Make new observations of important phenomena. At the second level of analysis. not the resulting domain definition. technology is any means of accomplishing a task. 1988) have produced new data that seem quite promising.17 field is bound to be incomplete and partially a matter of taste. the field is concerned with strategic management. In such cases. Van de Ven and Associates. At the third level of analysis. cognitive mapping techniques developed in social psychology might permit genuinely original observations. we restrict our domain to technologies embodied in products or processes that require some engineering/scientific knowhow to comprehend. the chief benefit is the process.
l Examine areas where lines of inquiry intersect. It has been suggested that behind every innovation stands a product or process champion. Theory suggests that incremental progress accounts for the majority of technical progress. cognitive processing models based on neural science have developed rapidly without causing MOT scholars to re-think how individual technical professionals conceive of innovations. that innovations cannot proceed without champions. l Search in the areas where ignorance is greatest. theory suggests that older technologies approach performance limits with maturity. Examining these fundamental sources of ignorance that strike at the heart of what innovation is may be an important avenue toward producing exemplary research. l Re-examine areas that were abandoned years ago as well-plowed. we know very little about how product and process innovations differ or how technological advances depend on complementary breakthroughs which may be administrative innovations. l Examine that which is thought impossible. Examining such impossibilities may be a route to producing powerful discoveries. For example. An interesting example here is Jelinek and Schoonhoven’s (1990) return to the original Burns and Stalker (1961) suggestion that organic organization is required in an innovative milieu. models incorporating network externalities and the development of standards have far outrun empirical observation testing their implications. Contradictory data seem to imply that pioneering technologies sometimes confer first-mover advantages and sometimes do not. Diffusion theory suggests that the rate of diffusion can never become negative. but data suggest this is often not the case.18 focused on innovation project teams. . For example. As Bamberger (1991) suggests. At the strategic level. l Seek areas where theory contradicts data or where data are contradictory. data suggest that these limits are demolished when a new technology appears as a competitive threat. Due to game-theoretic analysis. breakthrough innovations have received considerable attention at the expense of innovations which might have been discontinuous advances. Similarly. l Search in areas characterized by rapid change. they found that innovative firms deviate significantly from the organic model. but which failed to substitute for the technologies they were intended to supplant. leading to intriguing insights about organizing for innovation. Contradictions suggest the possibility of producing an exemplary solution which becomes widely accepted because of its ability to bridge an apparent paradox. Economic theory suggests that it is impossible for incompatible technologies to achieve significant market penetration in the presence of strong network externalities. Through field studies in Silicon Valley. both microlevel and organization-level theorists are interested in how skills and competences are built up and transferred via individual or organizational learning. An opportunity exists to examine technical exploration via other avenues.
they uncover a novel fact and suggest an original interpretation of Japanese engineering careers: what would be the consequences of developing a cadre of older professional gatekeepers? And what are the degrees of difference in practices between the U. cross-cultural survey research.19 In such cases. This set of articles is also meant to provide some insight into directions in which the invisible college of technology management scholars is likely to evolve. and Japan? This paper demonstrates that scholarship in careers and communication networks will continue to stimulate investigations into technology management. In summary. Henry Piehler. subsequently. Andrew Van de Ven encourages members of this invisible college to focus on how novel technologies arise from a social infrastructure that incorporates not only the structure of an emerging industry but also basic societal endowments and institutional arrangements. and Robert Smith bring the heritage of research in problem framing and solving to bear upon the way in which technical professionals approach technical puzzles. constrain the life chances of individual enterprises.S. no analysis can predict the direction in which MOT will evolve. and Mark Kieler’s article illustrates the potential of large-scale. The works in this issue collectively stimulate thought about what types of issues will occupy the technology management research community. 4. Research issues in the management of technology: Perspectives and models In this first special issue of the Journal of Engineering and Technology Management. Leonard Lynn. His work suggests that technology management scholars must be conversant with and will contribute to sociological research programs stressing how interorganizational ties are formed and. the development of model problem-solutions can be encouraged and readers might be stimulated to think about why the problems that interest them might lead to such breakthroughs. and how MOT might benefit from exploiting intersecting lines of inquiry. Examining career patterns and information flows. we sought papers that point toward ways in which exemplary research might develop. an opportunity for discovery arises when one individual is broad enough to bridge the gap between differing perspectives or units of analysis. prob- . Rather. what types of methods its members will employ. This work suggests the power of being the first to make new observations of important phenomena. it is hoped that by sensitizing a potential community to the need for exemplary research and suggesting how it might be generated. Stephan Schrader. William Riggs. Their paper proposes new linkages between technology research and the literature on decision-making. This research illustrates the power of specifying what is being overlooked. and what other research programs its members will rely on for inspiration and will in turn provoke with novel findings and interpretations.
The authors propose a novel point of view on the value of cross-functional integration. The articles collected here serve as prototypes and guideposts for those whose research would provide the foundation for such an achievement. The thrust of this work is to suggest a way to bring measurements from another branch of science to bear on MOT. Collectively. This work illustrates the way in which personally examining phenomena that are usually reported at arm’s length can lead to intriguing and original insights. and learning. It conveys a sense of the insights that arise from returning to fields that were thought to be wellplowed with fresh insights and original questions. keying on the way in which technical problem solvers think about the degree of uncertainty and ambiguity inherent in the tasks they undertake. since so many issues central to both intertwine. an area from which these linked fields draw inspiration and whose work they cite. Nancy DiTomaso. these papers provide a sense of where the technology management research community stands and how it is evolving.20 lem-solving. Robert Hoskisson. arguing that its benefits may be partially indirect and contingent. They provide interesting templates for those who would reach toward the types of puzzle-solutions the field requires at this stage of its development. and Rene Corder0 return to a classic work on scientists in organizations to ask whether its characterization of productive research climates holds in an era where American males constitute an evershrinking fraction of the scientific work force. It also suggests that technology management may in the future more strongly draw from and contribute to the research program of social demography. Each paper illustrates a way of doing research in MOT that can lead to important discoveries and exemplary research. which in turn provide analogies for other specialties seeking to borrow ideas from MOT. The thrust of their work is to heighten our sensitivity into the ways in which changing work force demographics might alter long-held assumptions in our field. They also suggest which other fields are likely to be most closely linked to the invisible college of technology management. He generates two powerful metaphors. and Robert Nixon build upon one of the most important emerging themes in strategic management. how organizational capabilities create value. George Farris. how development projects actually evolve. those who build on this research are almost assured of making novel observations. the vat and the funnel. This is an area experiencing rapid advance in a related field where the interests of researchers at all three levels of technology management intersect. . Michael Hitt. For MOT to become a giving specialty. Their work suggests that the tremendous growth of research in strategy and in technology management is likely to proceed hand-inhand. Frank Dubinskas employs ethno-methodological techniques to generate novel observations in an area of relative ignorance. we must develop exemplars which by analogy illuminate a variety of problems and show how to solve them as puzzles.
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