9781578519040

How Breakthroughs Happen

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781578519040

  • ISBN10:

    1578519047

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2003-07-01
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Pr

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Summary

Lessons from Famous "Invention Factories" Past and Present Did you know that the incandescent lightbulb first emerged some thirty years before Thomas Edison famously "turned night into day"? Or that Henry Ford's revolutionary assembly line came from an unlikely blend of observations from Singer sewing machines, meatpacking, and Campbell's Soup? In this fascinating study of innovation, engineer and social scientist Andrew Hargadon argues that our romantic notions about innovation as invention are actually undermining our ability to pursue breakthrough innovations. Based on ten years of study into the origins of historic inventions and modern innovations from the lightbulb to the transistor to the Reebok Pump athletic shoe, How Breakthroughs Happen takes us beyond the simple recognition that revolutionary innovations do not result from flashes of brilliance by lone inventors or organizations. In fact, innovation is really about creatively recombining ideas, people, and objects from past technologies in ways that spark new technological revolutions. This process of "technology brokering" is so powerful, explains Hargadon, because it exploits the networked nature-the social side-of the innovation process. Moving between historical accounts of labs and factory floors where past technological revolutions originated and field studies of similar processes in today's organizations, Hargadon shows how technology brokers create an enduring capacity for breakthrough innovations. Technology brokers simultaneously bridge the gaps in existing networks that separate distant industries, firms, and divisions to see how established ideas can be applied in new ways and places, and build new networks to guide these creative recombinations to mass acceptance. How Breakthroughs Happen identifies three distinct strategies for technology brokering that managers can implement in their organizations. Hargadon suggests that Edison and his counterparts were no smarter than the rest of us-they were simply better at moving through the networked world of their time. Intriguing, practical, and counterintuitive, How Breakthroughs Happen can help managers transform their own firms into modern-day invention factories.

Author Biography

Andrew Hargadon is Assistant Professor of Technology Management at the Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Davis.

Table of Contents

Foreword vii
Kathleen Eisenhardt
Preface xi
Part One: Technology Brokering and the Pursuit of Innovation
The Business of Innovation
3(28)
Recombinant Innovation and the Sources of Invention
31(24)
Part Two: The Networks of Innovation
The Social Side of Innovation
55(10)
Bridging Small Worlds
65(26)
Building New Worlds
91(32)
Part Three: How Firms Pursue Innovation Through Technology Brokering
Technology Brokering in Practice
123(10)
Technology Brokering as a Firm
133(26)
Technology Brokering Within the Firm
159(24)
Exploiting Emergent Opportunities for Technology Brokering
183(22)
Looking Back, Moving Forward
205(12)
Epilogue 217(12)
Notes 229(12)
Further Reading 241(6)
Index 247(8)
About the Author 255

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