A corporate system for continuous innovation: The case of Google Inc.
Journal article, 2013
History is full of companies that were once innovative leaders but lost their innovative ability. The purpose of this paper is to explore, from a firm-level perspective, organizational characteristics for continuous innovation in rapidly changing industries. Findings from 28 interviews at Google Inc. are compared to previous research on organizational characteristics for continuous innovation. Google’s organization can be viewed as a dynamic and open corporate system for continuous innovation, involving the entire organization and supported by an innovation-oriented and change-prone top management and board. The relative importance of eight organizational characteristics in this corporate system is elaborated upon. The importance of factors such as culture and the selection of individuals, identified in the empirical study, needs to be considered by managers, and might influence their understanding of how to sustain continuous innovation over time. This paper provides, from a firm-level perspective and based on a unique access to empirical data, increased understanding of organizational characteristics conducive to continuous innovation in rapidly changing industries, and highlights the importance of characteristics that received less emphasis in previous research literature. There is a need for further empirical research contributing to the development of a more comprehensive analytical framework for continuous innovation, including the role of culture and selection/facilitation of self-organizing individuals in innovation processes; and to study how to organize for both continuous innovation and continuous improvements.
Corporate innovation system
Human Resource Management