What innovation managers really do: a multiple-case investigation into the informal role profiles of innovation managers

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Over the last fifteen years companies tended to formalise their innovation management activities and to establish formal jobs like the innovation officer, the network manager or the innovation manager. Knowledge of the informal role profiles of these formal roles is still rare. HR and R&D Managers do not know which informal role profile might suit them best, thus having difficulties to assign the best candidates for jobs in innovation management. Researchers cannot help to resolve the problem. Our research answers the question what innovation managers really do, by analysing their tasks, skills and traits, theoretically based on informal role theories. Furthermore, we will analyse how these characteristics change with company size. To provide answers to our research questions we choose a multiple-case study approach. We found, among others, that innovation managers fulfil the role of the relationship and process promotor or a combination of both with the champion, but we also found, that the innovation manager’s roles profile becomes fuzzier with shrinking company size. Our results have practical implications for top management and also HR and R&D managers, enabling them to better select and steer employees in innovation management. Researchers will be able to build on our results because we offer a comprehensive understanding of the informal role profiles of innovation managers based on informal role theories.

JournalReview of Managerial Science
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1055-1080
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

    Research areas

  • Innovation champion, Innovation management, Innovation manager, Personal characteristics, Promotor model, Role profile, Role theories