Innovative Organisational Structure

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1. Abstract:

This research studies the impact of the organisational structure on the innovative capacity of a multinational oil company. In today’s world companies see innovation as an essential factor for long term survival and accelerating profitability by providing a competitive advantage in the market place. The research will focus on examining the organisational features that could impact the adaptation of innovation strategies in an organisation of an oil company. These features will be investigated to determine the level of impact on the company’s innovation. Through literature review and interviewing members of the organisation, key aspects that could affect innovation will be tested. Moreover, by analysing the results of testing these aspects and its influence on encouraging innovation the research will demonstrate the advantages an oil company could have by adopting newer innovation strategies within its organisation and also recommends tools and techniques to promote innovation in the work place.

2. Introduction:

2.1 Aim of the project

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The primary purpose of this research is to study the impact of the organisational structure on the management strategies for developing an innovative culture in an oil company. The paper argues how adoption of innovation strategies in the organisation could be difficult to apply in the old established environment of the oil major companies at the same time highlights the advantages that an oil company could have by adopting newer innovation and learning strategies.

The paper analyse the organisational features currently adopted by the company subject to examination such as its structure, size, management style, culture, profit orientation and the speed of its decision making process and try to verify whether the current mode of organising is capable to contribute to the company’s leaning and innovative capacity; it also propose different tools and processes that could improve the company’s innovation posture to the internal and external environment.

2.3 Why this question is interesting

Nowadays, many organisations initiate strategies with the aims to develop themselves into innovative organisations, which could be seen as the only way toward long term survival and profitability through providing a competitive advantage in the market. However, many would agree that the concept of an innovative organisation is a fairly new area of study which will make the questions raised in this paper very interesting to examine and the outcome from this study could be of a real benefit to my personal development as well as to the company to be examined.

3. Relation to previous research:

3.1 Research questions

The paper will be designed to examine the following questions:

What are the features that could impact the adaptation of innovation in an organisation of an oil company?

What are the advantages a major oil company could have by adopting newer innovation strategies within its organisation?

3.2 Literature review

Previous research related to the dissertation:

3.2.1 Definition of innovation and learning organization

Myers & Marquis (1969) defined innovation by noting that “Innovation is not a single action but a total process of interrelated sub processes. It is not just the conception of a new idea, nor the invention of a new device, nor the development of a new market. The process is all these things acting in an integrated fashion.” This definition could be the most appropriate for the organisation change toward an integrated body toward innovation. (Source: Myers, Sumner and Marquis, D.G. (1969). Successful Commercial Innovations. National Science Foundation, Washington D.C, USA)

3.2.2 The impact of the organizing modes on innovation:

Modes of organising are considered an important factor for the company’s innovation. The impact the organisational features could have on the company’s innovative capacity is studied by Burns and Stalker (1994), in their study they compared between the different types of organisations (mechanistic vs. Organic) and the impact of the each type on the company’s innovation. (Sources: Burns, Tom & Stalker, Macpherson G. (1994), The management of innovation, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, USA; Revised edition)

3.2.3 The role of the organization members in initiating the innovation process:

The members of the organization are considered as the fundamental driving force for the organization ability to change toward innovation (Poole & Van de Ven, 2004), they are identified as key source for creativity and new ideas and accordingly motivating and influencing this force is a key aspect for initiating an innovative culture in the organization. (Sources: Poole, Marshall S. & Van de Ven, Andrew H. (2004), Handbook of organizational change and innovation, Illustrated Edition, Oxford University Press, USA)

3.2.4 Management of innovation in large firms:

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Innovation could be of a challenge in large companies (especially the multinational ones) due to the systems and the levels of control that management has to apply in such organisations. A comparison of the different systems of management in highly innovative companies and those of more typical companies is conducted by (Christiansen, 2000) with the objective to identify the techniques that could improve innovation. (Sources: Christiansen, James A. (2000), Competitive innovation management: techniques to improve innovation performance, St. Martin’s Press, New York, USA)

3.2.5 Tools and techniques to promote innovation in the work place:

New tools of knowledge management and internal communication could improve the innovation capability of an organisation. (Rao, 2005) discusses the tools and techniques that could be adopted by companies to facilitate and encourage innovation in the work place. The main tool that could be adopted is building a knowledge management system capable of capturing, evaluating and implementing the organisational learning. Other internal communication tools like brainstorming, creative spaces and creative meeting could improve the organisation innovative potential. (JPB.com) (Sources: Rao, Madanmohan (2005), Knowledge management tools and techniques: practitioners and experts evaluate KM solutions, Illustrated Edition, Butterworth-Heinemann, Burlington, MA, USA and Baumgartner, Jeffery (2002) "The Corporate Innovation Machine" - JPB.com (Online: www.jpb.com/innovation/innovationMachine.pdf))

4. Proposed Methods:

The research plan will proceed in two phases.

4.1 First Phase - Literature search

During the first phase, a thorough in depth study and literature search in the topic of innovation will be conducted with intend to demonstrate a mastery understanding of the field of organising for innovation. This study will enable me to build a clear view of the theoretical features of the innovative culture in an organisation and compare it with the practical side of the organisation sample to be tested. The search will be carried out through using the university of Leicester library, university online support as well as the internet sources

4.2 Second Phase - Field interviews:

The first phase will lay the groundwork for the second, where a questionnaire will be designed to be used for conducting interviews with the management members and employees of the sample organisation to obtain primary data that could answer to the research question. The interview will be designed with a series of questions to determine the participant’s point of view of the organisation’s ability to encourage and motivate innovation.

4.3 Aspects to be tested

Understanding the overall goal of the sample organisation

Evaluating current levels of Employee Innovation ( Employee Perception )

Rewarding schemes for creativity and innovation

Development programs for innovation

Internal process of knowledge sharing

The organisation’s tolerance for risk

Managing the organisation culture

Proactive creation of new opportunities

4.4 Research hypothesises.

Hypothesis1. Mode of organising; an organic mode of organising could be seen as a major contributor to the company’s ability to innovate.

Hypothesis2. Management Style; individual’s behaviour toward creativity and innovation is defined by the organisation’s management style. Therefore, a less bureaucratic management style can encourage the spontaneity and innovative ability of the organisation.

Hypothesis3. Culture; the organisational cultures that promotes knowledge sharing, informal communication and support reasonable risk taking can foster the organisation innovative ability.

Hypothesis4. Decision making process; the decision making flexibility, timing and speed is crucial for crucial factors for the organisation innovation.

4.5 Data collection

I will conduct an interview though one-to-one meeting and phone calls with 20 individuals from the sample organisation including members of the leadership team. The question of the interview and the feedback from the participants will be collected in a sheet and attached as an Appendix to the dissertation paper. In the process of requesting the participants for the interview, an explanation of the study and the purpose of the interview will be provided to assure confidentiality of information obtained and its use for the research purpose only.

4.6 The choice of research methods

I found literature search is very useful for my dissertation as previous studies with regards to organising for innovation has provided a different views and comparisons on the features of the innovative organisation. (see Hall, R. (1999), Burns, T. and Stalker, G. (1994)). And by conducting a field interview with the members of the sample organisation a primary data from the organisation members will be obtained to validate my findings.

5. Reflections:

5.1 Potential practical empirical obstacles

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Presenting information regarding the organisation structure and model of Sample Company could be a challenge due to the confidentiality and information protection policy of the company. This challenge can be overcome by explaining the purpose of the study and obtaining approvals from the company’s management.

Developing a questionnaire and distributing it by mail may cause unnecessary assumptions by the participants. To overcome this obstacle a one-to-one or phone calls interview will be conducted with the participants to ensure that the purpose of the study is explained and that the questions are well understood. This will also give me the opportunity to further interact with the participants which could benefit the information collection process.

The dissertation will examine the innovation capability in a major oil company organisation, since major oil companies obtain huge diverse organisations it will be difficult to examine and compare the company’s organisation across its different business units (functions). To overcome this issue and to make the outcome of this research more achievable the research will examine a business unit (function) within the organisation which represent an objective sample of the organisation.

5.2 Conceptual and theoretical problems and difficulties

Since the area of innovation in general and organising for innovation in particular is the area of study, limited research has been found on the concept of organising for innovation. Most of the previous researches are focused on the concept of technological innovation and R&D rather than on the organising modes for innovation, which creates an interesting challenge for me to peruse this study.

5.3 Ethics

The confidentiality of the company’s identity subject to examination and the information to be obtained regarding its organisation could be a main ethical concern. This ethical problem will be treated as follows; first the name of the company will be kept confidential unless permission for the management has been obtained within the course of the dissertation. Secondly, the information to be presented on the organisation of the company will be discussed with the company management before it is released in the dissertation.

5.4 Researcher position:

My role as a researcher may have different reflections. The first reflection is positive as conducting this research will add to my personal development in the field of managing innovation and during the data collection I will have the chance to interact and learn from the different view point through networking with the employees and the management team. The second reflection could be difficult to predict how the outcome of the research could be interpreted by the organisation but since the selected company for research have innovation (ingenuity) as one on its core values. I trust that the results will be adopted by the company to improve its organisation innovative posture.

6. Conclusion:

The proposal was prepared taken into consideration the guidelines given by the university; it provides a clear description of the steps that will be taken into conducting the dissertation. The proposal starts by providing a statement of the research question and the relation between the proposed research and previous studies. It presents a detailed description of the research method and the data sources that will be used in conducting this research. It will reflect on the practical and empirical obstacles, the theoretical difficulties and addresses the ethical issues that will face the researcher. Once the proposal is submitted to the university, I will start working on the first phase of the proposal timetable by collecting more data on the research subject and completing a through Literature review on the Innovation theories by conducting an in depth study of the relation between the different modes of organisational structure and corporate innovative capacity in preparation for writing the main body of the dissertation once I receive the feedback on my proposal.

7. Timetable

7.1 Data Collection

August 1, 2009 – September 30, 2009

Literature review of the Innovation theories will be extracted.

In depth study of the relationship between the different modes of organisational structure and corporate innovative capacity.

Development of the research methodology

Conducting interviews and distributing questioners.

7.2 Data Analysis:

October 1, 2009 – November 30, 2009

Analysing and evaluating the collected materials.

Selecting of data (theories and models) that could be positioned to provide answers to the

research questions.

Examining results and provides recommendations and conclusions.

7.3 Dissertation writing:

December 1, 2009 – January 31, 2010

Writing the dissertation first draft.

Review of the first draft and make amendments

Final submission of the desertion by end of January 2010.

8. References

Myers, Sumner and Marquis, D.G. (1969). Successful Commercial Innovations. National Science Foundation , Washington D.C, USA)

Burns, Tom & Stalker, Macpherson G. (1994), The management of innovation, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, USA; Revised edition

Poole, Marshall S. & Van de Ven, Andrew H. (2004), Handbook of organizational change and innovation, Illustrated Edition, Oxford University Press, USA

Kanter, Rosabeth M. (1985), The Change Masters: Corporate Entrepreneurs at Work, Illustrated Edition, Unwin Paperbacks, London, UK

Christiansen, James A. (2000), Competitive innovation management: techniques to improve innovation performance, St. Martin’s Press, New York, USA

Rao, Madanmohan (2005), Knowledge management tools and techniques: practitioners and experts evaluate KM solutions, Illustrated Edition, Butterworth-Heinemann, Burlington, MA, USA

Baumgartner, Jeffery (2002) "The Corporate Innovation Machine" - JPB.com (Online: www.jpb.com/innovation/innovationMachine.pdf)

Anon (2007), Implementing Strategies, School of Management, University of Leicester, Learning resources, Cheltenham.

Mintzberg, H (1979). The structuring of organisation. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prestice Hall

Gilbert, J. (1994). Choosing an Innovation Strategy: Theory and Practice. Business Horizons, Nov.-Dec: 16-22.

Kogut, B. and Zander, U. (1993). Knowledge of the firm and the evolutionary theory of Journal, 13:111-126.

Porter, M. (1980). Competitive Strategy. New York: The Free Press.

Senge, P. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, London: Century Business.

Porter, Michael E.(1980), Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors, First Edition, The Free Press, New York.

Kotter, John P. (1995), Leading Change: Why transformation Efforts Fail - Harvard Business March – April 1995 issue.

Daft, Richard L. (2006), The New Era of Management, International Edition – Thomson South-Western, Mason, Ohio, USA.

Drucker, Peter F. (1986), Innovation and Entrepreneurship – HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., New York, NY, USA.

Zaltman, G., Duncan, R., and Holbeck, J. (1973). Innovations and Organizations. New York: Wiley.

Ghoshal, S. and Barlett, C. (1988a). ‘Innovation Proceses in Multinational Corporations’, in M. Tushman and W. Moore (eds.), Readings in the Management of Innovation. (2nd edn). New York: Harper Business, 499-518.