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Accelerating the innovation process: A systematic review and realist synthesis of the research literature

Ellwood, P, Grimshaw, P and K Pandza (2017). Accelerating the innovation process: A systematic review and realist synthesis of the research literature, International Journal of Management Reviews, 19(4): 510-530.

There is continued interest among academics, practitioners and policy-makers in methods to achieve accelerated innovation. Academic studies of this complex phenomenon have succeeded in reaching a high degree of consensus on the antecedents of innovation speed.

The aim in this review is to elucidate further the mechanisms underlying management interventions to promote speed. The review adopts a theory-led, realist synthesis of innovation speed research - the first example of this methodology in management studies. The authors develop a new time-based framework for categorizing the innovation-speed literature. The framework has a CIMO logic, and is built by invoking the organizational studies literature on time.

The authors contextualize the innovation-speed literature in relation to the three generic temporal challenges faced by all organizations: reducing temporal uncertainty; resolving temporal conflicts over activities; and allocating resources amid conditions of temporal scarcity. They problematize extant explanations of innovation speed as not taking account of different temporal orientations (temporal dichotomies) within innovation work, and thereby neglecting a potential barrier to achieving accelerated innovation outcomes. They further draw on the literature on time in organizations to suggest new avenues of research, and methodological approaches new to the study of innovation speed. The principal contribution of this review is to offer a new conceptual perspective on the complex empirical research examining how innovation projects may be accelerated from original idea to launch.

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