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The complex search process of invention

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  • Maggitti, Patrick G.
  • Smith, Ken G.
  • Katila, Riitta

Abstract

We inductively develop a process model of individual search in the context of technological invention, an important aspect of economic development that is also fundamental to the success of many organizations. Using an extensive archival content analysis of notable inventors we find that the search and discovery process of invention is inherently complex, non-linear, and disjointed. Successful inventors are skilled at managing these complex systems, receptive to feedback, and able to revisit and change course. Our search model includes a stimulus, net casting for information, categorizing that information, linking unrelated ideas, and discovery. Our findings articulate the search process as a complex progression through a series of simple stages. As such, the study contributes to our understanding of complexity and the complex systems view of the invention process.

Suggested Citation

  • Maggitti, Patrick G. & Smith, Ken G. & Katila, Riitta, 2013. "The complex search process of invention," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 90-100.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:42:y:2013:i:1:p:90-100
    DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2012.04.020
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:eee:tefoso:v:120:y:2017:i:c:p:130-143 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Engel, Yuval & Kaandorp, Mariƫtte & Elfring, Tom, 2017. "Toward a dynamic process model of entrepreneurial networking under uncertainty," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 35-51.
    3. repec:bla:stratm:v:38:y:2017:i:9:p:1791-1811 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Peeters, T.J.G., 2013. "External knowledge search and use in new product development," Other publications TiSEM 300ebb34-b090-4210-b95e-f, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    5. Sanderson, Susan Walsh & Simons, Kenneth L., 2014. "Light emitting diodes and the lighting revolution: The emergence of a solid-state lighting industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(10), pages 1730-1746.
    6. Linus Dahlander & Siobhan O'Mahony & David M. Gann, 2016. "One foot in, one foot out: how does individuals' external search breadth affect innovation outcomes?," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(2), pages 280-302, February.

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    Keywords

    Innovation; Invention; Search; Discovery;

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