Saturday, November 24, 2007

Innovation in Manufacturing

Improvisation Model for Team Performance Enhancement in a Manufacturing Environment

Anil B. Jambekar, Karol I. Pelc

Team Performance Management, 2007, 13, 7/8, p. 259-274

The core purpose of the paper is to propose that improvisational practices have potential of bringing an additional dimension to learning process in a typical manufacturing organization governed by a culture-implied “Plan what we do and do what we plan” environment. In today’s turbulent environment employees should possess both the capability to follow a plan while, at the same time remaining able to respond instinctively to outcomes that are unexpected.
Several authors view the concept of improvisation associated with performing arts and creativity-based artistic productions such as jazz performance, comedy and improvisational theater as a model to shape organizational processes. The instances of improvisation cited in the literature are first classified as either proactive or reactive. Using jazz metaphor the paper offers a model of decision making by an agent and a process view of communication.
Authors propose that a culture of a manufacturing environment described as “Plan what we do, do what we plan, but improvise with bias toward improved system performance” is very desirable and should be legitimized. Although the model is conceptual, it will benefit from more empirical or case based research.
For practicing managers, this work offers a goalpost toward productive thinking.
The authors argue that improvisational experience of other domains of activity e.g. in creativity- based artistic productions; jazz band, theatre, etc. should be considered for adoption into manufacturing environment after a suitable transformation.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Schumpeter and technology networks

A Schumpeterian Perspective on Technology Networks

Karol I. Pelc[1]

Chapter in: E. G. Carayannis and C. Ziemnowicz (Eds.) "Re-discovering Schumpeter," Palgrave Macmillan Publ. Ltd., Houndmills Basingstoke, U. K. , Chapter 14, 229 - 242, 2007.


Concepts of Joseph Schumpeter related to technology and innovation are reviewed with emphasis on principle of “new combination” of elements involved in an economically successful innovation. Contemporary technology and innovation networks may be viewed as an implementation of the Schumpeter’s ideas. Developing the combinations of different technologies, which are mutually complementary, is one of the most creative and productive forms of technological change. Those interconnected technologies constitute a network that involves several types of interface: economic, cognitive, technical, organizational etc. A definition of technology network and its theoretical model are presented. Technology network is viewed as a constellation of three platforms: knowledge network, innovation network and supply/production network. The model also provides a framework for analysis of complementarities between technologies in a network. Technology networks constitute a new Schumpeterian model of innovation, which is proposed as Schumpeter Mark III, complementary and in addition to the earlier models Schumpeter Mark I and Mark II presented in the literature.
[1] Karol I. Pelc is a Professor of Technology and Innovation Management, Emeritus, at Michigan Technological University, School of Business and Economics, Houghton, Michigan. He may be reached at . His webpage address:

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

New Product Development

Considering Risk Potential to Enhance Engineering Decision Making During Planned Product Innovation

Kiran Khadke, John K. Gershenson, Karol I. Pelc

Paper presented at the IAMOT 2007, International Association for Management of Technology Conference 2007, Miami, FL, May 2007, published in: Sherif, H., Management of Technology for the Service Economy, Proceedings of 16th IAMOT Conference, CD Format, p. 2473 - 2486.


Planned product innovation is the systematic pursuit of technological opportunities for establishing new products or improving existing ones. In planned product innovation, it is important to consider the potential for change of each technology within the product, as well as each technology change’s corresponding risk potential. This paper presents a qualitative assessment of the risks associated with technology change potential analysis. Using the Planned Product Innovation Methodology (PPIM), a technology’s potential for change in performance level, principle of operation, and technology architecture can be identified. An associated qualitative perspective on the corresponding risk for each technology change option at product concept stage will aid designers in developing feasible alternatives early on in the design process. The Planned Product Innovation Risk Assessment method considers three dimensions of risk - envisioning risk, design risk, and execution risk - for each potential technology change option. In this method, risk in each dimension is calculated based on the amounts at stake and uncertainty, using pre-determined factors and guidelines. Assessment of the overall risk for each technology within a product can then be quantified. The method improves designers’ perception of new product development risks by segregating the types of technology changes and providing a comprehensive risk assessment framework for planned innovation. The discussion in this paper pertains only to the engineering risks and does not consider other risks such as consumer acceptance and marketing risks, and competitor risks.