Managing innovations in engineering industries
Khdairi, Ghazi Hasan Awad
It has been shown in this thesis why innovations are regarded as the lifeline of engineering industries. Continuous flow of novel ideas is the source of innovations but the encouragement, creation and nurturing of such ideas requires many distinct managerial attributes. Hence, management of innovations is complex but an important area of study which is not amenable to standard analyses due to its multidisciplinary nature and dependence on a large number of intangible variables. It has been shown that proper management of innovations would involve at least three distinct but closely linked activities, namely: (a) managing people, in particular the innovators, as well as inspiring others to become innovators; (b) managing the environment so that it is conducive to innovations; and (c) managing innovative processes in order to ensure that innovations are properly nurtured, well targeted and economically implemented within clearly defined time and budgetary constraints. The thesis has been divided into eight chapters; an outline of the chapters is given below. Chapter 1 is an introduction to the subject of managing innovations in engineering industries. It sets the scene for carrying out research in this field, identifies the problems to be tackled and makes a clear statement of the aims. Chapter 2 offers a critical review of the published works relevant to the field of research covered in this thesis. The purpose of this study was to understand the state of the art approach to: (a) creating and maintaining the innovative environment; (b) inspiring and leading engineers to come up with innovative solutions for engineering problems; (c) managing the innovative processes for better efficiency. Finally, in view of the comprehensive review of the relevant published literature, this chapter justifies the aims of this research. Chapter 3 describes research methodology i. e. the procedure for conducting this programme of research. The purpose of this study was to ensure that the research programme was conducted in accordance with the scientific method as closely as practicable. For sake of clarity, chapter 4 first draws distinction between inventions, innovations and engineering design and later identifies a large number of intangible factors that influence the three principal components, i. e. innovative environment, innovators and the innovation process. It is suggested that the innovativeness of engineering companies depends on these three principal components. Hence, innovativeness may be assessed by determining the influence of each on the principal components with the help of suitable computational techniques. Two computer applications have been developed to: (a) evaluate the innovativeness of engineering organisations; and (b) analyse the risks embedded in either accepting innovative ideas or implementing innovative projects. These applications are based on questionnaires and may serve as computer aided management (CAM) tools for dealing with the multidimensional problem of managing innovations speedily and efficiently. Chapter 5 analyses the influence of factors identified in chapter 4 and uses the two aforementioned applications to survey the innovativeness of four engineering organisations for their innovativeness and evaluate two projects for the risks surrounding them. These assessments were carried in the form of six case studies. Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 present the results of the six case studies and a focused discussion of the results and other observations made during the course of this research. Chapter 8 draws conclusion from this research and proposes further work that may be carried out in order to study yet unknown factors, refine the questionnaires conduct further tests in different industrial environments to build confidence in the use of CAM Applications as tools for rapid response management of innovations in engineering industries.