Innovation Workshops

Rangapriya K. Narasimhan
UCLA Anderson School -- Doctoral Candidate, Human Resources & Organizational Behavior

Topic: “Strategic Sensegiving in Nascent Innovations”

Date/Place/Time: Friday, April 1, 2011 at 1:45PM-3:00PM
UCLA Anderson Cornell Hall D313


How do innovators acquire formal organizational support for their early stage ideas? Innovations rarely fit well with an organization’s strategy, structure, resources or institutionalized patterns of thought (Chandy & Tellis, 2000; Dougherty & Hardy, 1996). High potential ideas are often weeded out at nascent stages because they challenge existing thought. Previous researchers have suggested that innovators succeed when they influence how audiences understand the meaning of their innovation (Dougherty & Heller, 1994, 1996; Hargadon & Douglas, 2001). In this study I explore how innovators construct meaning by engaging in “sensegiving” (Gioia & Chittipedi, 1991) to move their innovation from ideation to adoption.
            To address this research question I use data collected from individuals involved in innovative projects within Silicon Valley’s high technology industry. Data were collected from 14 firms ranging in age from 12 to 114 years, with annual revenues for 2008 from approximately $5 to $105 billion and an employee base of 10,000 to 150,000. In contrast to previous research, which suggests that successful innovators either conform to (Hargadon & Douglas, 2001) or alter meanings (Dougherty & Heller, 1994), I find that innovators promoting nascent ideas do both. Those who are successful present their projects as completely aligned yet different from their organization’s extant schema; i.e., their innovations are optimally distinct (Brewer, 1991) through the use of narratives, symbols and timing of their sensegiving strategies.


Link to paper (if available):