Three essays in control, entrepreneurship and innovation


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Three essays in control, entrepreneurship and innovation
Cardenas F.
Oyon D.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté des hautes études commerciales
Faculté des hautes études commerciales (HEC) Université de Lausanne UNIL - Dorigny Internef - bureau 317 CH-1015 Lausanne SUISSE
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One of the key emphases of these three essays is to provide practical managerial insight. However, good practical insight, can only be created by grounding it firmly on theoretical and empirical research. Practical experience-based understanding without theoretical grounding remains tacit and cannot be easily disseminated. Theoretical understanding without links to real life remains sterile. My studies aim to increase the understanding of how radical innovation could be generated at large established firms and how it can have an impact on business performance as most businesses pursue innovation with one prime objective: value creation. My studies focus on large established firms with sales revenue exceeding USD $ 1 billion. Usually large established firms cannot rely on informal ways of management, as these firms tend to be multinational businesses operating with subsidiaries, offices, or production facilities in more than one country.
I. Internal and External Determinants of Corporate Venture Capital Investment The goal of this chapter is to focus on CVC as one of the mechanisms available for established firms to source new ideas that can be exploited. We explore the internal and external determinants under which established firms engage in CVC to source new knowledge through investment in startups. We attempt to make scholars and managers aware of the forces that influence CVC activity by providing findings and insights to facilitate the strategic management of CVC. There are research opportunities to further understand the CVC phenomenon. Why do companies engage in CVC? What motivates them to continue "playing the game" and keep their active CVC investment status. The study examines CVC investment activity, and the importance of understanding the influential factors that make a firm decide to engage in CVC. The main question is: How do established firms' CVC programs adapt to changing internal conditions and external environments. Adaptation typically involves learning from exploratory endeavors, which enable companies to transform the ways they compete (Guth & Ginsberg, 1990). Our study extends the current stream of research on CVC. It aims to contribute to the literature by providing an extensive comparison of internal and external determinants leading to CVC investment activity. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the influence of internal and external determinants on CVC activity throughout specific expansion and contraction periods determined by structural breaks occurring between 1985 to 2008. Our econometric analysis indicates a strong and significant positive association between CVC activity and R&D, cash flow availability and environmental financial market conditions, as well as a significant negative association between sales growth and the decision to engage into CVC. The analysis of this study reveals that CVC investment is highly volatile, as demonstrated by dramatic fluctuations in CVC investment activity over the past decades. When analyzing the overall cyclical CVC period from 1985 to 2008 the results of our study suggest that CVC activity has a pattern influenced by financial factors such as the level of R&D, free cash flow, lack of sales growth, and external conditions of the economy, with the NASDAQ price index as the most significant variable influencing CVC during this period.
II. Contribution of CVC and its Interaction with R&D to Value Creation The second essay takes into account the demands of corporate executives and shareholders regarding business performance and value creation justifications for investments in innovation. Billions of dollars are invested in CVC and R&D. However there is little evidence that CVC and its interaction with R&D create value. Firms operating in dynamic business sectors seek to innovate to create the value demanded by changing market conditions, consumer preferences, and competitive offerings. Consequently, firms operating in such business sectors put a premium on finding new, sustainable and competitive value propositions. CVC and R&D can help them in this challenge. Dushnitsky and Lenox (2006) presented evidence that CVC investment is associated with value creation. However, studies have shown that the most innovative firms do not necessarily benefit from innovation. For instance Oyon (2007) indicated that between 1995 and 2005 the most innovative automotive companies did not obtain adequate rewards for shareholders. The interaction between CVC and R&D has generated much debate in the CVC literature. Some researchers see them as substitutes suggesting that firms have to choose between CVC and R&D (Hellmann, 2002), while others expect them to be complementary (Chesbrough & Tucci, 2004). This study explores the interaction that CVC and R&D have on value creation. This essay examines the impact of CVC and R&D on value creation over sixteen years across six business sectors and different geographical regions. Our findings suggest that the effect of CVC and its interaction with R&D on value creation is positive and significant. In dynamic business sectors technologies rapidly relinquish obsolete, consequently firms operating in such business sectors need to continuously develop new sources of value creation (Eisenhardt & Martin, 2000; Qualls, Olshavsky, & Michaels, 1981). We conclude that in order to impact value creation, firms operating in business sectors such as Engineering & Business Services, and Information Communication & Technology ought to consider CVC as a vital element of their innovation strategy. Moreover, regarding the CVC and R&D interaction effect, our findings suggest that R&D and CVC are complementary to value creation hence firms in certain business sectors can be better off supporting both R&D and CVC simultaneously to increase the probability of generating value creation.
III. MCS and Organizational Structures for Radical Innovation Incremental innovation is necessary for continuous improvement but it does not provide a sustainable permanent source of competitiveness (Cooper, 2003). On the other hand, radical innovation pursuing new technologies and new market frontiers can generate new platforms for growth providing firms with competitive advantages and high economic margin rents (Duchesneau et al., 1979; Markides & Geroski, 2005; O'Connor & DeMartino, 2006; Utterback, 1994). Interestingly, not all companies distinguish between incremental and radical innovation, and more importantly firms that manage innovation through a one-sizefits- all process can almost guarantee a sub-optimization of certain systems and resources (Davila et al., 2006). Moreover, we conducted research on the utilization of MCS along with radical innovation and flexible organizational structures as these have been associated with firm growth (Cooper, 2003; Davila & Foster, 2005, 2007; Markides & Geroski, 2005; O'Connor & DeMartino, 2006). Davila et al. (2009) identified research opportunities for innovation management and provided a list of pending issues: How do companies manage the process of radical and incremental innovation? What are the performance measures companies use to manage radical ideas and how do they select them? The fundamental objective of this paper is to address the following research question: What are the processes, MCS, and organizational structures for generating radical innovation? Moreover, in recent years, research on innovation management has been conducted mainly at either the firm level (Birkinshaw, Hamel, & Mol, 2008a) or at the project level examining appropriate management techniques associated with high levels of uncertainty (Burgelman & Sayles, 1988; Dougherty & Heller, 1994; Jelinek & Schoonhoven, 1993; Kanter, North, Bernstein, & Williamson, 1990; Leifer et al., 2000). Therefore, we embarked on a novel process-related research framework to observe the process stages, MCS, and organizational structures that can generate radical innovation. This article is based on a case study at Alcan Engineered Products, a division of a multinational company provider of lightweight material solutions. Our observations suggest that incremental and radical innovation should be managed through different processes, MCS and organizational structures that ought to be activated and adapted contingent to the type of innovation that is being pursued (i.e. incremental or radical innovation). More importantly, we conclude that radical can be generated in a systematic way through enablers such as processes, MCS, and organizational structures. This is in line with the findings of Jelinek and Schoonhoven (1993) and Davila et al. (2006; 2007) who show that innovative firms have institutionalized mechanisms, arguing that radical innovation cannot occur in an organic environment where flexibility and consensus are the main managerial mechanisms. They rather argue that radical innovation requires a clear organizational structure and formal MCS.
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