Designing Knowledge-Intensive Business Services - Guidelines for New Service Development and the Management of Innovation
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Knowledge-intensive firms are a category that is on the forefront of innovation and economic growth. These firms are seen by the academic community to be much different from a managerial perspective than traditional product-based companies or even some service firms. However, there is still little understanding on how such firms are actually managed in a way that results in competitive advantage, especially in the context of innovation management. As a result, most authors have settled for acknowledging that services merely happen and cannot be managed. The research goal was to add to the understanding of new service development in knowledge-intensive firms, building on previous literature and generating new insight through a two-phased empirical research part consisting of action research within a knowledge-intensive firm and a set of focused interviews with directors, managers and new service development practitioners in successful knowledge-intensive firms. The interviews consisted of 11 interviewees in 8 different firms, both technologically driven and professional service firms, and the action research was done in a technology driven software consulting firm during a new service development project that lasted for 6 months. The results clearly showed that innovation management and the management of new service development is in its infancy in knowledge-intensive firms. It is not as well thought out as new product development tends to be, and is hindered because of its service-nature, treated as a special category of products. To remedy this, two findings were presented that could help to evolve innovation management in knowledge- intensive business services. First, innovation and new service development was said to be manageable, on the contrary to previous research, but it was argued that it should be managed with a discipline that does not hinder the innovative capabilities of individual knowledge workers. Second, innovation management should have a generalized structure for new service development but innovation itself was seen to be best managed with inherent, identity driven strategy that creates boundaries for self-actualized innovative activities.