Innovation Hubs: Do they Matter?

When we look at organizations that have been successful innovators, some such as Apple stand out because of their ability to come up with several breakthrough innovations. What makes organizations such as Apple innovate repeatedly? The simple answer is there are many reasons. It could be their culture, it could be their R&D and product development processes, it could be the leadership and so on. A more general answer is that Apple seems to have institutionalized some competencies that enable them to successfully innovate.

In an on-going study we have been examining how organizations could institutionalize innovation management capabilities. We surveyed over 85 large firms in the US to identify the organizational systems comprising of processes and structure they have created to institutionalize innovation management. Today we will discuss about the structures. I will talk about the various management practices in the subsequent posts.

One structural arrangement that seems to be gaining ground is an innovation hub. What is an innovation hub? It is typically an organizational unit or group created to facilitate innovative activities in the firm. More than 65% of the firms surveyed had implemented a hub in some form or other. They come with different names such as the New Business Initiatives group at Intel that Gina mentioned in her post, or emerging business opportunities group at IBM.

Do hubs matter? In our study we found that in a way they do. It is not that firms that had hubs magically became better innovators. But hubs facilitated organizations to implement effective innovation management practices which in turn lead to better outcomes such as successful commercialization of breakthrough innovations. Which leads us to the obvious question such as – what do these hub do? Where do they reside in the organization? What are their responsibilities etc. More on this in my next posting. Stay tuned.

One Comment

  1. All this is really interesting. I’m a business student in France about to write a paper on innovation. Where can I read your published research ?


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