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Organization and innovation in firms

Posted on 10/05/2011
Professor Alice Lam

Prof. Alice Lam

Keynote address on ‘organization and innovativeness’ to European Union DIME Conference

What makes some firms more innovative than others? Are the prospects for innovation at the firm level enhanced by specific organizational and institutional arrangements? What are the most promising avenues for advancing the theory and empirical study of the relation between organizing and innovating?

Professor Alice Lam discussed these questions in a recent keynote address on ‘Organization and innovativeness’ to the DIME Final Conference 2011 in Maastricht in April. She challenged the dichotomy between ‘mechanistic’ and ‘organic’ organizations, and between ‘exploitative’ and ‘explorative’ patterns of innovation. She explored how organizations can combine contrasted forms and capabilities for achieving ‘ambidexterity’ in three different ways: dual structures, semi-structures and overlapping structures. Her message to policy makers is that competence building and appropriate human resource architectures provide the foundations for innovative firms.

DIME (Dynamics of Institutions and Markets in Europe) is a network of excellence of social scientists in Europe, working on the economic and social consequences of increasing globalisation and the rise of the knowledge economy. It is sponsored by the 6th Framework Programme of the European Union. The conference reviewed DIME’s activities over the past 6 years. It was organized by the United Nations and Maastricht University, and was attended by over 250 European researchers and also policy makers from the European Commission.

Background paper

Lam, A. (2010) ‘Innovative organizations: structure, learning and adaptation’, in Innovation: Perspectives for the 21st Century, Madrid: BBVA, Spain, pp. 163-175.


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