Learning in Innovation Development - DiVA portal

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 28 (2011) 379 – 383

WCETR 2011

Learning in innovation development Karl W Sandberg* , Gerth Ohman* *Mid Sweden University, Holmgatan 10, 851 70 Sundsvall, Sweden

Abstract The purpose of the article is to present a conceptual framework for innovation learning, directed to beginner in innovation development. The model for innovation includes factors like practical and theoretical learning linked to explicit and implicit knowledge related to different phases of innovation development. © 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license. Keywords: Innovation development, learning, education.



We know from early studies that most of inventors never coming out with their inventions to the market. One explanation can be that inventor have lack the knowledge about the innovation development. Give inventor opportunities to make their own choices and decisions with the assist of experienced advisors instead of taking a “cookbook solution” from some expert. Inventor’s lack of knowledge of innovation development is a major cause of failure to success in innovations. An inventor’s ambition is go from an invention to innovation (market). Clark (2009) argue that the time between idea and a marketable product has been shortened, but it still takes years to claim an invention and earning money on it. Clark (2009) suppose four reasons why innovation learning can be successful; firstly, the inventing process is nothing more than learning the patenting process and it can be trained in traditional learning situation; second, each individual is creative in some way and this creativity can be move forwards to the invention of commercial products, though using less traditional teaching methods; thirdly, more sensible invention strategy can be developed; and finally, be open to developing new opportunities regardless of previous knowledge. The purpose is therefore in this paper to propose a framework to present a framework to develop a model in innovation learning from academic knowledge and practical experience from adviser in invention and innovation.

*Karl W Sandberg. Tel.: +4660148588; fax: +4660148830. E-mail address: [email protected]

1877-0428 © 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.11.072



Karl W Sandberg and Gerth Ohman / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 28 (2011) 379 – 383

Innovation and learning

2.1 Defining innovation One definition of innovation is the implementation of a new or significantly improved product, or process, a new marketing method, or a new organizational method in business practices, workplace organization or external relations (OECD, & Eurostat, 2005). Tiwari, Buse, & Herstatt (2007) define innovation as commercialisation of new, or improvement of existing, products, processes and/or services, and they means that innovation process go through logical steps, beginning from the problem/requirement analysis to idea generation, evaluation and selection, project planning, product development and testing to finally product marketing. Innovation activities are scientific, technological, organisational, financial and commercial steps which actually, or are intended to, lead to the implementation of innovations. Innovation activities also include research and development that is not directly related to the development of a specific innovation (Tiwari et al., 2007). 2.2 Learning in innovation development A question is how to learn innovation. A formal education can only learn out part of the innovation development, that we call explicit knowledge. But learning out the whole process you need to conceptualisation even the implicit part of knowledge, which is not usual in a formal education. Öhman & Sandberg (2009) assumed that innovator share common attitude to creative problem solving. A main subject in innovation research has been focused of the environment and characteristics of innovation learning. The recent theories of innovation no longer seen only as a process of discovery, but also teaches (Binder, 2009). Ellström (2010) claims that learning is a key concept in research on innovations and innovation processes, and this research can be criticised for its lack of a including the learning concepts, and innovation research has also mainly focused on formal learning rather than informal learning. 2.3 Innovation process Koskinen & Vanharanta (2002) means that models of innovation have been developed for obtain a better understand of the innovation process. Several models have been developed to describe the innovation process, and some authors have described technological innovation through a number of steps. Twiss (1992) described the models where companies, through market research, identify customer needs and then take steps to develop products to meet these needs through the use of explicit and implicit knowledge. The way of describing the innovation process is to divide it into number of sub-processes; invention, decision to bring the invention into development, development, decision to produce, production, and marketing. These phases are not predictable and sequential in practice, but include in innovation development, and it is learnable (Koskinen et al., 2002). Experience of advisory work with inventors to commercialise their inventions, we have developed a framework for innovation learning based on the following main contents in innovation development in Figure 1.

Karl W Sandberg and Gerth Ohman / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 28 (2011) 379 – 383


Figure 1. The main contents in innovation development.

The learner need the opportunity to try out their conceptual knowledge since real problems are mostly not so far adequately based on reason to be organised into theory (Polanyi, 1966; Koskinen et al., 2002). Once they enter the field, students normally encounter a dissonance between their theory and practice. Argyris and Schön (1974) refer to the inconsistency between theory and practice, and for that reasons it is important that learner have the opportunity to engage in experimentation (e.g. role plays, simulations) to bring these two theories together. 2.4 The learning model in innovation Theory suggests that individuals will be intrinsic motivated, and the force of this motivation will vary between individuals. Ellis (2008) argue that we know from cognitive neuroscience, that implicit and explicit learning are distinct processes, are stored in different areas of the brain, and that different educational experiences generate different types of knowledge. Besides theory and practice, Raelin (1997) have proposed that a learning model in innovation most be based on explicit and implicit knowledge (Kolb et al. 1984; Kolb and Plovnick 1977; Polanyi's, 1966). Explicit knowledge is communicable in formal and regular language, while implicit knowledge is normally not communicable since it is strongly embedded in achievement in a specific context, and may be teachable (Raelin, 1997). From our experience to use a learning model in innovation, we find most of the theories not adequate to use, to explain the significance to integrate the knowledge and learning styles in the learning process of innovation like Kolb’s learning model. For that reasons we have integrated present facts in our framework of innovation learning for inventors, in Figure 1. In the model the learning types resulting from a matrix of the two learning modes and knowledge forms (Kolb et al., 1984). Successful diagnosis of innovation learning should be directly related to the instructors who have long experience and knowledge about innovation development. Since Kolb, much more research has been done in implicit knowledge, to get better understanding of the learning process and awareness into different learning styles (Kolb et al., 1977). Learning often occurs through experience. Learners first need to undergo a particular experience and then, upon reflecting upon that experience, extrapolate learning from it (Long 1990; Raelin, 1997). Learning of this nature is important to new practitioners for once they enter the world of practice, no matter how hard they try to apply theoretical criteria or use advanced analytic techniques, they confront technical, cultural, moral, and personal idiosyncrasies which defy categorization. Experience reinforces the implicit knowledge acquired in experimentation. It can also be thought of as non conscious intellectual activity. Learning acquired through experience is often referred to by cognitive psychologists as implicit learning, meaning the acquisition of complex knowledge that takes place without the learner's awareness that he or she is learning (Hayes and Broadbent 1988, Green and Shanks 1993).


Karl W Sandberg and Gerth Ohman / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 28 (2011) 379 – 383

Buckler (1996) stress that we often exclude the reflection part of the learning process, and take improper performances. Reflection constitutes the ability to uncover and make explicit to oneself what one has planned, observed, or achieved in practice. Unfortunately, the segmentation between theory and practice and teaching and learning has been make worsted through the further splitting up of subject matter to the extent that exchanges across disciplines rarely occur. Cross-disciplinary connections are more likely to occur in practice than in academia.

Figure 2 A model of innovation learning (Raelin, 1997; Kolb et al., 1977, 1984).

2.5 Innovation learning in practice Besides classroom instruction, the other most important mode of learning in innovation development is through practice. The dialogue might at first be kept at the theoretical level within the study group but participants might be encouraged to individually test with some of the ideas brought up, and should try to reflect upon what implicit theories of knowledge are actually used in practice. The model requires skilful preparation of competent instructors if it is to be realised (Raelin, 1997). In order to uncover the effectiveness of the research activities of the group members a small study was carried out during the course of 2011. The group was asked to record the main objectives and outcomes concerning their mini-projects in the course. Details of precisely what they were attempting to discover, the methodology to be used and a schedule or timetable of activities for the year to aid planning for the achievement of their stated objectives were requested. They were asked to list the main objectives and outcomes achieved; whether they had uncovered what they had been attempting to discover; the methodology used; and if they had been able to adhere to their schedule. 3. Concluding remarks The present framework in innovation learning has been developed in cooperation with experience advisor in invention and innovation. The primary prediction from innovation learning model was that innovators who integrate the learning model of conceptualising and experiencing as well as acting and reflecting will be more flexible on those measurements. The model should be considered as framework based lessons learned. The model tries to help evaluate successful initiatives, and test and reflection our ideas of interest (Buckler, 1996). The innovation learning model requires the co ordination and skilled practice of competent instructor if it is to be actualized (Raelin, 1997). Brown and Duguid (1991) and Argyris and Schön (1978) further develop these suggestions and their implications for increasing the odds of learning while innovating.

Karl W Sandberg and Gerth Ohman / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 28 (2011) 379 – 383


We can also conclude that implicit knowledge plays an important role in the idea, inventors and product development phase of innovation development (Koskinen, & Vanharanta, 2002). The model by Ellström (2010) can be used as a framework for analysing the relations between individual and organisational learning. Developing support for practice-based innovations can thus be seen as an alternative to the traditional “top-down model” of understanding and managing change in organisations. Raelin, (1997) have developed a model of innovation learning which illustrates the interplay between the forms of knowledge and the modes of learning at individual level, and also at collective level. This approach recognises that practitioners in order to be capable need to bridge the gap between explicit and implicit knowledge and between theory and practice. Innovation learning subscribes to a form of knowing that is context-dependent. Practitioners use theories to frame their understanding of the context but simultaneously incorporate an awareness of the social processes in which organizational activity is embedded. References Argyris, C., & D. Schön (1978). Organizational learning: A theory of action perspective. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. Binder, G. (2009). Understanding innovation: An evolutionary social learning model. RMIT XMCA Research Paper Archive, http://lchc.ucsd.edu/mca/Paper/Innovation.pdf, Last accessed on May 28, 2011. Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (1991). Organizational learning and communities of practice: Towards a unified view of working, learning and innovation. Organization Science, 2(1), 40-57. Buckler, B. (1996). A learning process model to achieve continuous improvement and innovation. The Learning Organization, 3(3), 31–39. Clark, A. (2009). An experiment in teaching invention. Education+Training, 51(7), 516-525. Ellis, N. (2008). Implicit and exolicit knowledge about language. In J. Cenoz and N. H. Hornberger (eds), Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 2nd Edition, Volume 6: Knowledge about Language, 1–13. Ellström, P-E. (2010) Practice-based innovation: a learning perspective. Journal of Workplace Learning, 22(1/2), 27-40. Green, R. E. A., & Shanks, D. R. (1993). On the existence of independent an explicit and implicit learning systems: An examination of some evidence. Memory and Cognition, 21, 304-317. Hayes, N. A., & Broadbent, D. E. (1988). Two modes of learning for interactive tasks. Cognition, 28, 249-276. Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Kolb, D. A., & Plovnick, M. S. (1977). The experiential learning theory of career development. In J. Van Maanen (ed.), Organizational careers: Some new perspectives, London, UK: Wiley. Koskinen, K. U., & Vanharanta, H. (2002). The role of tacit knowledge in innovation processes of small technology companies. Int. J. Production Economics, 80, 57–64. Long, D. G. (1990). Learner managed learning. New York: St. Martin's. Press.OECD, & Eurostat. (2005). Oslo manual: Guidelines for collecting and interpreting innovation data. Paris: OECD. Polanyi, M. (1966). Tacit dimension. Doubleday & Co., New York. Raelin, J. A. (1997). A model of work-based learning. Organization Science, 8(6), 563-578. Sandberg, K. W., & Vinberg, S. (2000). Information technology and learning strategies in small enterprises. Behaviour & Information Technology, 19(3), 221-227. Tiwari, R., Buse, S., & Herstatt, C. (2007). Innovation via global route: Proposing a reference model for chances and challenges of global innovation processes. Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Management of Globally Distributed Work. Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, July 25-27, 451-465. Twiss, B. (1992). Managing technological innovation. London: Pitrnan. Öhman, G., & Sandberg, K. W. (2009). A phenomenological study of innovators attitude to creative problem solving. The 17th World Congress on Ergonomics, IEA; August 9-14, 2009 Beijing, China.