9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN09 Economic Sociology

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Innovation and Entrepreneurship Building AA, AA.228

Social Construction of Innovation (SCI): Portuguese Cases in Technologic-Based Organizations

This paper discusses the innovation as a social process in organizational context. The current work presents the results of three case studies in Portuguese technologic-based corporations.
Following the MIRP (Minnesota Innovation Research Program; Van de Ven et al., 1999; 2000), we define innovation as a process that includes ideas, outcomes, people, transactions and contexts. More specifically, innovation is defined as new ideas that are developed and implemented to achieve desired outcomes by people who are engaged in transactions (relationships) with others in a changing institutional and organizational context. Using the social construction perspective (Granovetter, 1985), organizations issues are embedded in a larger social system. In this perspective, the social process begins with the novelty generation by people in transactions, to introduce products / services into the market.
This research followed a qualitative approach, and used a case study approach. This strategy was selected because it allows descriptive and richer data to be collected. It also allows to explore actors` accounts of the phenomena under study. Data was collected via interviews, direct observation, media, web and document analysis using triangulation. The first empirical research focus was to identify the highest Portuguese innovative firms with international recognition. In this explorative step key informants were selected from academic and business areas, and media and websites were also analysed.
We followed the suggestions by Yin (1994) and Eisenhardt (1989) namely we used protocols and consolidating the model of analysis. In this phase, top management, the human resources director and the middle management were interviewed.
The implications of the paper are discussed at a practical level (e.g. human resources policy and its relationship with innovation in organizations), at a methodological (e.g. link between tacit and theoretical knowledge through case study research), and at a theoretical (e.g. presentation of a conceptual framework to analyze the innovation processes as a product of organizational actors).