Center for Innovation Research

CIR pursues and propagates fundamental research on innovation with a focus on the strategic and organizational dynamics associated with innovation and learning at the organizational, intra-organizational, and inter-organizational levels.


Research Center for Innovation Research (CIR)

The three elements of CIR's research program - innovation strategy, organization of innovation and organizational learning - are presented in the figure below. It reveals that CIR's research is focused where the innovation theme overlaps with the fields of strategy, organization, and learning.


Organizations innovate by undertaking activities aimed at the discovery and successful commercialization of new products, processes, services, technologies or operating methods. Successful innovations nearly always involve a combination of several of these items.


Innovation strategy allows organizations or networks to make essential decisions regarding the nature, choice and timing of such explorative activities. Organizations need to strike a balance between explorative projects and other activities of a more exploitative character, appropriate to the competitive environment in which they operate. Innovation strategy provides answers to questions such as how many and what types of explorative projects should be undertaken as compared to other, more exploitative projects. Innovation strategy also sets out general guidelines concerning the governance of the organization's innovation activities. Is it the firm's objective to develop know-how in-house or rather to outsource it? Does the organization aspire to innovate on its own or rather to find partners to do so? At CIR we study the effect that such strategic decisions have on the long-term innovative and competitive success of organizations.


While innovation strategies determine what innovation projects are undertaken, organization of innovation is key to producing successful innovation outcomes. Portfolios of innovation projects need to be managed over time and their outcomes translated into increased turnover of business units. One of the crucial questions is how to ensure the successful commercialization of an innovation. Managing innovation also involves decisions with regard to how a particular project should be structured, that is: should the R&D be performed in-house, acquired for example through licensing, or carried out collaboratively with other organizations? Each of the options is not without problems, but setting up productive innovation networks is particularly challenging; even the most successful innovator companies have trouble finding strong and complementary partners.


Given the fact that modern economies and organizations increasingly view knowledge as the core asset for innovation, organizational learning is a key issue both in innovation policy and innovation management. CIR research focuses on understanding the organizational learning that occurs whenever innovation takes place, that is, whenever new rules, routines or knowledge are developed or acquired from another organizational entity. Another important area of CIR learning-related research explores the impact that the structure and the processes of the organizational environment have on the learning outcomes. Understanding this effect can contribute to optimizing organizational learning and innovation. Finally, CIR's research aims to develop concrete and useful measures for relevant learning-related phenomena such as knowledge creation, combination, transfer, and accumulation.