Towards a New Theory of Innovation Management: a Case Study Comparing Canon, Inc. and Apple Computer, Inc.

7711 Words Nov 10th, 2010 31 Pages
Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 8 ( 1991 ) 67-83 Elsevier

Towards a new theory of innovation management: A case study comparing Canon, Inc. and Apple Computer, Inc.
Ikujiro Nonaka
Institute of Business Research, Hitotsuhashi University, Kunitachi, Tokyo, Japan

Martin Kenney
Department of Applied Behavioral Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA

This paper argues that innovation can be best understood as an information process which is then concretized as a product that meets demand. Two very different firms, Canon Inc. and Apple Computer Inc., are used as case study illustrations. Innovation does not proceed through logical deduction, but rather is furthered by the use of metaphors
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See, for example, Parsons (1951). Rather, we are using chaos models, or what one might term "emergence" models, more in keeping with Prigogine ( 1980 ). See also Prigogine and Stengers (1984). For further discussion, see Nonaka (1988a). 3 Artificial intelligence is the technique being applied to make the more routine aspects of interpretation amenable to machine control. See Daft and Weick (1984) tor a discussion of organizations as interpretation systems. 4 This type of information is in sharp contrast to that manipulated by traditional academic economists which is assumed to be based on so-called "hard" data. The real world of business is more often predicated on hunches, "gut" feelings and inarticulable experience. 5 "There is an increasing literature in the sociology and history of science which argues that the traditional deductive model of science does not describe the way science is actually done. See, for example, Latour and Woolgar (1979), and Rose and Rose (1976).


tion creation can and must go on at every level and in every part of the firm 6. For example, the development of new process innovations within quality control circles is an aspect of information creation. To remain competitive any firm must constantly be creating new strategies, new products, and new ways of manufacturing, distributing and selling. Constant reexamination, reconceptualization and reorganization are

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