IMI - Innovation Management Institute

Adoption of an Idea Management Tool in a Service Organization

Authors Eloranta Tuomo
Project RINE
Type Thesis
Release date May 22, 2013


The present study has examined idea management tools and their ability to support grassroots level innovation activities from a practice theoretical perspective. Literature review revealed that majority existing research on innovation management tools follows mechanistic world view which presumes that tools have direct unilateral effect on the behavior of the users and that the experienced benefits are mostly constituted by the technical features of the tools. Design of the tools has emphasized systematization of innovation efforts and measures aiming reduce uncertainty in development

However, research on innovation practices and practices of ICT use challenge these assumptions. Since innovation processes are inherently uncertain, the sensibility of trying to impose opposing ideals has been questioned. Also, practice research has emphasized the role of contextual factors in the constitution of practices around support tools as well as unpredictability and uncontrollability of the constitution process.

Empirical single case study was conducted in a financial organization which had recently adopted an idea management tool. Research data consisted of 19 interviews, rich logs from the idea management tool and a vast array of documents related to the preparatory phase of the adoption process. Data analysis was inspired by the principles of grounded theory (Charmaz 2000) and systematic combining (Dubois and Gadde 2002). A modified version of a research frame proposed by Orlikowski (2000) for the examination of constitution of ICT related practices was used.

In the case company, idea management tool was used especially for sharing raw, unpolished ideas which were outside the idea generator’s formal job role. User community provided support to creative individuals by offering encouragement, proposals for refinement as well as suggesting potential contacts and stakeholders. Use of the system in general was perceived as an extra role effort which presented a barrier for use. Large differences between ideas were found in the number and nature of received comments.

Existing development, rewarding and inter-divisionary collaboration practices had a major impact on resulting benefits from the idea management tool adoption. Discrepancies between existing practices and new practices around the idea management tool generated tensions which hampered organizations ability to implement ideas. Tensions lead to lengthy decision making processes which eradicated the momentum which had formed around the idea. Problems started to skew idea selection practices towards favoring ideas which were easy to advance, instead evaluating ideas based on their content and other qualities.

Empirical observations indicated that ensuring compatibility between local practices of different parties as well as global organizational practices such as rewarding is a key issue in ensuring success in idea management tool adoption and innovation efforts in general.

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