‘Nature has no outline, but imagination has’ contrasting executive renditions of the ‘commitment to innovation’

Salaman, Graeme and Storey, John (2009). ‘Nature has no outline, but imagination has’ contrasting executive renditions of the ‘commitment to innovation’. European Management Journal, 27(4) pp. 234–242.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emj.2008.11.003

Abstract

In recent years, corporate and governmental agency declarations of a commitment to, and exploitation of, ‘innovation’ has been pervasive and powerful. In this paper we show how executives rearrange such a dominant societal thematic in order to control their organization in a manner which fits with their interpretative schemas. Drawing upon in-depth research of discourse and action in two major corporations – one in banking and the other in advanced telecommunications equipment design and manufacture – we reveal how senior executives ‘ruled in’ certain ways of talking about innovation and strategy and also as a direct result, ‘ruled out’ other, alternative ways of thinking. Antecedent, formative thinking leading up to the banking crisis of 2008 is explored.

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