Flexing the Frame: TMT Framing and the Adoption of Non-Incremental Innovations in Incumbent Firms

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Flexing the Frame: TMT Framing and the Adoption of Non-Incremental Innovations in Incumbent Firms

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Title: Flexing the Frame: TMT Framing and the Adoption of Non-Incremental Innovations in Incumbent Firms
Author: Raffaelli, Ryan Leo; Glynn, Mary Ann; Tushman, Michael L.

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Citation: Raffaelli, Ryan, Mary Ann Glynn, and Michael Tushman. "Flexing the Frame: TMT Framing and the Adoption of Non-Incremental Innovations in Incumbent Firms." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 17-091, April 2017.
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Abstract: Why do incumbent firms so frequently reject non-incremental innovations? One reason is due to the firm’s top management team’s (TMT) lack of frame flexibility, i.e., an inability to expand the organization’s categorical boundaries so as to encompass a wider range of emotionally resonate capabilities in the context of innovative change. For incumbent firms, we argue that the way the TMT cognitively thinks about, and emotionally frames, non-incremental innovation and organizational capabilities drives innovation adoption. We show that frame flexibility is both cognitive, through claimed beliefs and understandings, and emotional, through claimed appeals to feelings and aspirations. First, we reexamine an assumption that cognitive frames are static and suggest how they evolve to become flexible – via shifts in perceived categorical hierarchies and in the ability to reconcile incompatible organizational capabilities. Second, we theorize and attend to the role of emotional frames in innovation adoption. Thus, we advance a model that articulates how cognitive and emotional framing affects the likelihood of non-incremental innovation adoption and, over time, the breadth of the organization’s innovation practices. We delineate these processes, as well as the internal and external contingencies that influence them, and offer directions for future research.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Open Access Policy Articles, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#OAP
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33111770
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