Advancing management innovation: Synthesizing processes, levels of analysis, and change agents

Henk Wijtze Volberda, Frans A.J. Van Den Bosch, Oli R. Mihalache

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

113 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the mounting evidence that innovation in management can fuel competitive advantage, we still know relatively little about how firms introduce new ways of managing. The goal of this introductory essay—and the Themed Section it introduces—is to advance this knowledge. To this end, we first synthesize the main developments in the field of management innovation and show that the field has branched into four main theoretical perspectives (rational, institutional, international business, and theory development perspectives). We then address the fragmentation issue that emerges from our review by proposing a co-evolutionary framework of management innovation that takes into account the dynamic and multilevel nature of the concept; we thus integrate the generation, diffusion, adoption, and adaptation phases of the management innovation process at the organizational, inter-organizational and macro level. Our integrative framework also addresses the role of human agency (managerial intentionality of internal and external change agents) and makes a distinction between three types of management innovations (new to the world, new to the organization and adapted to its context, and new to the organization without adaptation). Furthermore, we discuss the contributions of the studies included in the Themed Section and identify several avenues for future research that we consider priorities for driving the further development of the field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1245-1264
Number of pages20
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan. 2014


  • Adaptation
  • Adoption
  • Change agents
  • Diffusion
  • Generation
  • Management innovation
  • Multilevel
  • Process
  • Rational actor


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