Through the lens of concern about innovation, the Center is interested in identifying new concepts and to solve new problems in the study of organizations. One new concept is the definition of transformational organizations, that is organizations capable of making transformational technologies and scientific breakthroughs. In the U.S. a recent report of the National Academy of Science prompted several senators to meet at the White House to discuss how to create transformational discoveries (press release of Senator Domenici, December 15, 2005).With this objective, two research papers have recently been published. The book Restoring the Innovative Edge: Driving the evolution of science and technology has several case studies including the important one of SEMTECH.
In particular, there has been increasing recognition of the need to study research organizations as a special category. The NSF study of national research laboratories is our attempt to speak to this need. Within this context, we are also attempting to solve a major epistemological problem, namely defining the boundaries of a research team on the basis of the kinds of problems that have to be solved. Another issue is examining how the national research laboratories have been coping with the problem of over coming the problem of the valley of death, that is, the capacity of moving scientific ideas into commercialized products. We have begun a series of papers from our large data sets on scientists in public research laboratories. In this data set, we have found that the problem of motivation is great for scientists working in large research laboratories.
Still another quite interesting organizational problem in the study of innovation is the resolution of Nooteboom’s Dilemma. He posits that as the diversity of cognitive perspectives increases, which is necessary for radical or transformational innovations, communication tends to decline, which prevents the achievement of this objective. We are working on a paper that explores mechanisms for resolving this dilemma.
With this in mind, the Center for Innovation is developing a theory about research organizations with the following highlights: