Critical Success Factors for Innovative Performance of Individuals - A Case Study of Scania

University essay from Lunds universitet/Produktionsekonomi

Abstract: The competitive corporate environment of today, as marked by continuous changes and enhanced global competition, forces companies to constantly adapt their current business activities and increasingly excel. Innovation is considered a critical imperative in order to respond to these increased competitive threats. Hence, innovation ought to permeate corporate environments and their inherent business activities. Recent global studies indicate that innovation is considered particularly vital within the highly competitive automotive industry; 93 percent of its senior executives rank innovation as critical to long-term corporate success. Companies thus must embrace innovation through the consequent incorporation of levers for enhanced innovative performance throughout organisational settings and adherent contexts. The critical importance of particularly innovative individuals has been elucidated in recent studies. Therein, particularly innovative individuals have been identified as the single most critical element of innovative success of companies. To scrutinise the underlying critical success factors for the significant innovative performance of these particularly innovative individuals can thus be considered a key to long-term corporate innovative success and according also to corporate survival. Purpose: The purpose of this master thesis project was to identify critical success factors for innovative performance of individuals within Scania specifically. Hence, this master thesis project aimed at increasing the corporate understanding therein. Method: Throughout this master thesis project, a system approach with a qualitative grip was applied, in order to capture complex interlinks and interdependencies. An explorative case study with focus on internal top innovators was conducted at Scania. It was preceded by exhaustive desk studies along with a quantitative survey of Scania‟s internal patent III database, which selected the survey units to include in the case study. As a key performance indicator of innovative performance, the number of registered invention submissions during the years of 2009, 2010 and 2011 was applied. Interviews, previous research and literature studies were the main data gathering techniques used. Semi-structured interviews with the selected top innovators provided qualitative primary data and constituted the major source of empirical data. Previous research provided exhaustive quantitative secondary data through register data from Scania‟s internal patent database, along with company-specific information. Literature studies provided foremost qualitative secondary data to the initial desk studies. Conclusions: The authors present six different critical success factors for innovative performance of individuals within Scania; motivation, creativity, innovative features, assignment, time for innovation and collaboration. Motivation must be in place through the presence of foremost intrinsic motivation but also extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivators must be present within all individuals. Moreover, extrinsic motivators, especially synergistic ones, must be in place throughout the organisation of Scania. Creativity must be in place within individuals through the presence of all its three components; i.e. creativity skills, task motivation and expertise. Yet, creativity skills were identified as the most critical component of creativity. Expertise was identified as the least critical component of creativity, as it can be compensated for through various external means. Innovative features must be present within individuals through three subcategories that were identified by the authors. These are personal traits, practical approach and intellectual skills. No single innovative feature was distinguished as utterly critical. Yet, individuals must possess innovative features of all three identified subcategories and preferably be particularly strong in at least one innovative feature of each subcategory. Assignment entails assigned general work field and inherent work tasks. Work field was identified to determine the general degree of innovation potential and hence is indirectly critical. Work tasks were identified as utterly critical, through their entailed degree of radical novelty, exposure to novel technologies and offered overall exploration potential. Particularly notably; assignment as a critical success factor for innovative performance was not explicitly articulated throughout the studied theory. Time for innovation must be offered through a certain degree of incorporated organisational slack. Yet, three identified fundamental prerequisites must be in place, in order for it to be favourable; the organisational slack must be balanced, flexible and properly managed. Collaboration is generally important to innovative performance. Yet, it is only critical on condition that some identified fundamental prerequisites are in place within the actual team. The most critical prerequisites of IV favourable collaboration are shared elementary knowledge, clear communication and unified attitudes. Moreover, networks and skunk works were identified as the utmost favourable designs of collaboration. In order to summarise the six identified critical success factors for innovative performance of individuals within Scania, the authors present the MCIATC framework for individual innovative profile, which can be considered an applicable tool in order to support the enhancement of innovative performance throughout the organisation of Scania.

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