Dynamic Problem Solving for Breakthrough Innovation: The Case of a Social Robot
Cromwell, Johnathan R.
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CitationCromwell, Johnathan R. 2018. Dynamic Problem Solving for Breakthrough Innovation: The Case of a Social Robot. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Business School.
AbstractThis dissertation consists of four chapters that propose a novel theoretical framework for understanding organizational creativity and innovation that I call dynamic problem solving. Previous scholars have proposed extensive theory to explain how people can develop novel and useful solutions to well-defined problems, but this overlooks many situations in which people must work on creativity and innovation projects before they have constructed a well-defined problem. One such situation is developing a breakthrough innovation, which is characterized by extreme levels of uncertainty and ambiguity throughout the development process. Most scholars argue that people should approach these situations by first defining a problem and then developing a solution—a process that I call deliberate problem solving. However, a small body of research suggests that people can take the opposite approach, in which they develop a solution first and then define a problem—a process that I call emergent problem solving. These processes seem to fundamentally conflict with each other, leaving open the question of how people engage in problem solving to develop a breakthrough innovation. I addressed this overarching research question by conducting a two-year ethnography of an organization that built one of the world’s first social robots for the home. I found that developers did not use one type of problem solving at the exclusion of the other, but instead dynamically shifted between them over time, thus engaging in dynamic problem solving. I develop theory for this process at both the individual and group levels of analysis.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41940972