Economic operations and thus innovations are embedded in social relations and structures. Therefore, the organisational units that create innovation are not just individual businesses, but more and more networks, e. g. in form of interlinked teams, departments or cooperating organisations, often in virtual settings. From a resource theoretical point of view, networks hold a variety of advantages for their members, such as access to material and immaterial resources, information and knowledge. Increasing dynamics due to globalisation and on these grounds changes within the markets and business networks lead to new relations between the social context and the production process of goods and services. To progress in understanding discontinuous change, it is needed to embed the analysis of emergence in the routine dynamics of social contexts (Padgett & Powell, 2012). To this effect understanding the relevance and the process of innovation means and to recognize how it corresponds with its social context.
To develop management tools supporting the process of innovation it is appropriate to get an understanding of the new main drivers.
In many European businesses the next generation of innovation is expected to be
much more on the level of networking and cooperation than on the pure technical level. The green energy industry, the health care industry, education and agriculture – for instance – have undergone huge changes. On the one hand the process of restructuring is an innovation per se and on the other hand organisational changes may implicate different forms of leadership and incentives to motivate the employees. In many European businesses the next generation of innovation is expected to be much more on the level of networking and cooperation than on the pure technical level. The green energy industry, the health care industry, education and agriculture – for instance – have undergone huge changes. On the one hand the process of restructuring is an innovation per se and on the other hand organisational changes may implicate different forms of leadership and incentives to motivate the employees.
Even though the markets and the networks change, the importance of one group
of actors, namely small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), seemed to be untouched in the European context. Depending on the definition between 70 and 95 % of European economies companies are SME. While huge firms are able to host all the resources needed to set up innovation capabilities themselves, SME are depending much more on cooperation compared to larger enterprises. To catch up with competition they have to cooperate under time pressure and they have to focus on their corecompetences, namely their knowledge and their human resources. Trustful relationships and a motivational milieu are inevitable to stay competitive for SME. Therewith trust is a key variable for SME in the internal as well as in the external relations.
With this special issue we will contribute to the discussion on the management of
innovation in companies, corporations, and networks. Anna Kunttu and Lasse Torkkeli investigate the relationship between the management of innovations and internationalisation among SME. In particular the empirical study focuses on the role of service innovations. Biotechnology, one of the most globalised industries in terms of research and development (R&D), is object of an in-depth case study. Stine Jessen Haakansson and Vandana Ujjual illustrate the internationalisation of R&D through this example and look into the strategic drivers of this process. Learning behaviour, autonomy and time pressure on the job level are studied in a quantitative study focusing on work engagement and innovative work behaviour. Stan de Spiegelaere, Guy van Gyes, Hans De Witte and Geert von Hootegem find that a combination of high time pressure and high job autonomy is positively related to both outcomes: engagement and innovative
behaviour. Andre Veenendaal and Tanya Bondarouk ask how innovative behaviour can be stimulated. Based on a survey among workers they show that high commitment human resource practices have an effect on innovative work behaviour. In particular the high impact of perceived supported supervision should be mentioned. Compresence, geographical distance, and virtual organisation in research teams are discussed by Andrea Hanebuth. While some success factors of innovative behaviour seems to be transferable from real to virtual research teams, geographical distance remains an influencing factor, which can also be seen as a protective shield.