I and E Conference

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Innovation has been a core focus of Imperial College Business School for more than a decade and the Department of Innovation & Entrepreneurship has been at the forefront of scholarship and dissemination activities during this time. On 9-10 June it hosted its second annual Innovation and Entrepreneurship Conversation on the topic of ‘Organising for Innovation’. Involving 13 presentations were given over the two days, across six thematic sessions, from leading international scholars who study innovation across multiple levels and using various methods of study.

The event is designed to showcase ongoing research at various stages, from theoretical concept development to papers being revised for journal publication, and presented to an invited audience of academic experts from universities across Europe and the US.

The conference opened with a discussion on how firms learn from failure. Rahul Kapoor from the University of Pennsylvania, discussed the setbacks in the emergence of new technologies, while Erwin Danneels from the University of South Florida argued that to tolerate failure is not enough, and firms must “learn from failure [by having] an atmosphere of constructive conflict” that allows open discussion and debate. 

Professor Bart Clarysse from Imperial’s Department of I&E opened the session on Corporate Structure and Individual Innovativeness by discussing the attempts of 5 Danish companies to leverage new markets or technologies  and the implications for innovation, resource-based and search literature. The penultimate session on day one considered Creativity in Teams, with papers from UCL’s Sarah Harvey on the difficulty of selecting highly novel and high quality ideas, and from Dirk Deichmann from Rotterdam on the likelihood of forming teams after a previously successful idea.

“Creativity is an antecedent of innovation and entrepreneurship” but relates to both, explained Lucy Gilson in her paper on creativity in multicultural teams. Her research suggests such teams must develop a “sharedness” as they often struggle to perform. This work led nicely into the first session of day two on Meaning in Creative Contexts, with research looking at aesthetic design in the PC industry and a case study of the influence of Boston’s built environment on its city identity.

Research from our own Department of Innovation & Entrepreneurship was presented towards the end of the conference, as Assistant Professor Ileana Stigliani shared insights from her six-year project on the emergence of service design, while Assistant Professor Anne ter Wal and Associate Professor Paola Criscuolo outlined their findings from a survey and interview with R&D technologists and managers about the influence of their networks on company innovation.

The setting of the Royal Society, as one participant pointed out, was a wonderful environment to engage in a high-level scholarly exchange, where the academic peer-review system was conceived, and to share in the history of an organisation that includes Captain Cook and Isaac Newton. The annual Innovation & Entrepreneurship Conversation is fast establishing itself as key event for scholars wanting detailed feedback on diverse work at multiple stages, to share their ideas and participate in lively debate.

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