Modelling the dynamics of technological innovation systems

Research Policy (in press)

Currently there is no formal model describing the dynamics of technological innovation systems. This paper develops a system dynamics model that integrates the concept of ‘motors of innovation’, following the literature on emerging technological innovation systems, with the notion of ‘transition pathways’ that was developed as part of the multi-level-framework thinking. As such, the main contribution of this paper is a cross-over of two key-frameworks into a system dynamics model that can serve as underpinning for future research. The model’s behaviour is illustrated by means of analyses of TIS dynamics in the context of different transition pathways, under different resourcing conditions. The paper also provides a future research agenda, pursuable by means of experimentation and/or further development of the presented model.

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How to counteract the suppression of exploration in publicly traded corporations

R&D Management (2015)

Top management teams frequently overemphasize efforts to exploit the current product portfolio, even in the face of the strong need to step up exploration activities. This mismanagement of the balance between explorative R&D activities and exploitation of the current product portfolio can result in the so-called success trap, the situation where explorative activities are fully suppressed. The success trap constitutes a serious threat to the long-term viability of a firm. Recent studies of publicly traded corporations suggest that the suppression of exploration arises from the interplay among the executive team’s myopic forces, the board of directors as gatekeeper of the capital market, and the exploitation–exploration investments and their outcomes. In this paper, system dynamics modeling serves to identify and test ways in which top management teams can counteract this suppression process. For instance, we find that when the executive board is suppressing exploration, the board of directors can still prevent the success trap by actively intervening in the exploitation–exploration strategy.

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Getting trapped in the suppression of exploration: A simulation model

Journal of Management Studies (2011)

The benefits of strategically balancing exploitation and exploration are well documented in the literature. Nonetheless, many firms tend to overemphasize exploitation efforts, a situation commonly referred to as the ‘success trap’. Previous studies have attributed this behaviour to managerial incompetence or myopia. However, some management teams appear to adequately recognize the exploration need, while not being able to bring about the required strategic change. We draw on system dynamics modelling to investigate this phenomenon. A simulation model is developed and then the behaviour of a selected firm is replicated to uncover the underlying processes. As such, we develop a process theory of the success trap at the managerial level, coined the ‘suppression process’. This process theory describes and explains how the interplay between top managers, board members, and exploitation–exploration activities can trap the firm in the suppression of exploration.

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