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THE MISMANAGEMENT OF INNOVATION

Janette Webb
Sociology
Vol. 26, No. 3 (August 1992), pp. 471-492
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42855071
Page Count: 22
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THE MISMANAGEMENT OF INNOVATION
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Abstract

The paper argues the need for a sociology of management which relates the micro-sociology of management activities to the economic performance of the firm and to debates about power relations and the distribution of wealth. The substance of the paper is a study of a medium-sized British company in the computer components industry. The research focuses on the relationships between development engineers and managers, and analyses the structural reasons for the failure to innovate. In particular it shows that management, in attempting to pursue an instrumental rationality, undermined the achievement of their own objectives. The contradiction between the logic of short-term instrumental controls and the espoused organic, human resources model of management produced a damaging pattern of workplace relations characterised by distrust and defensiveness. The result was a motivational crisis over the management of innovation, which contributed to the eventual failure of the business.

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