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Professor Doughertys Taking Advantage of Emergence is an outstanding addition to the literature on innovation. It combines a highly innovative theoretical framework with rich empirical analysis of modern innovation. It is rare to find a book that combines academic insight with such a clear articulation of ideas that is presented in a way that can be readily accessed by non-academics. The book is both rich and fascinating, and also an enjoyable read. Professor Dougherty avoids simplistic easy answers, but offers something much more valuable a framework for understanding how innovation emerges and how that emergence can be managed. I know of no other book that provides such an overview of the cutting edge of our field. (Paul Nightingale, Professor of Strategy, University of Sussex)
In this book, Deborah Dougherty offers a deeply pragmatic roadmap for addressing our most challenging social and technical problems through new modes of thinking and organizing. Complexity often seems like a curse, because it foils traditional methods of understanding. Through her extensive fieldwork and intensive scholarship, Dougherty has found an alternative: by enabling emergence, we enable discovery, and discovery provides the way forward. (Brian T. Pentland, Eli Broad College of Business, Michigan State University)
This book is a brilliant epitome of what Debra Doughertys scholarship is best known: empirical richness and conceptual depth. Generating new knowledge in complex innovation systems, such as the making of new drugs, is hugely important both practically and theoretically. Doughertys sophisticated research not only sheds light on complex innovation but gives us a sophisticated vocabulary to better understand it. Her emphasis on the emergent character of innovation, on collective learning, and on abductive reasoning, to mention a few concepts, illuminates her rich empirical material. She writes for both scholars and practitioners, and this gives the book a freshness which is not always discernible in purely scholastic texts. (Haridimos Tsoukas, The Columbia Ship Management Professor of Strategic Management, University of Cyprus and Distinguished Research Environment Professor of Organization Studies, Warwick Business School)
Our most pressing societal problems such as enhancing health care, developing alternate energy, revitalizing cities, and advancing the economy are complex innovation systems. Leveraging the enormous potential of sciences and technologies into better resolutions for these complex challenges requires a transformation in the social technologies we use to tap this potential.
The thesis of this book is that we can grapple with complex innovation systems only by taking advantage of emergence. This book creates a theoretical framework of three new social technologies for taking advantage of emergence in infrastructures of complex innovation systems. The central social technology is abduction, the logic of discovery, for figuring out solutions to complex problems. Abductive reasoning differs significantly from deductive confirmation and simple rationality. The book details three abductive learning routines that enable innovators to grab up noisy and fragmented information, synthesize it into hypothesized configurations that capture the inherent ambiguity, evaluate these configurations by exploring consequences and contingencies, and reframe to accumulate the learning. The second social technology divides the infrastructure into four distinct but entangled subsystems of interpersonal action: the project, knowledge system, strategic, and institutional subsystems. Each subsystem is a vast multi-organizational network that must address its distinct problem if the infrastructure overall is to productively innovate. The author shows how cycling through abductive learning routines overcomes problems in each subsystem that conventional approaches cannot deal with. The third social technology is a new way of organizing based on heterarchy, not hierarchy, with roles and relations defined through heedful interrelating.
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