Abstract Based on an ecosystem view of innovation management and in-depth case
studies of ﬁrms in China and abroad, a novel paradigm of innovation
management—Total Innovation Management (TIM)—is put forward in this paper.
This new paradigm draws on three distinct areas of recent research, namely the
innovation theory of the ﬁrm, the resource-based view (RBV), and the complexity
theory. It introduces the theoretical framework of TIM, and presents a tri-dimensional
innovation strategy model, which includes all elements of innovation, all innovators,
and innovation in all times and spaces, and aims at value added and created.
Keywords Total Innovation Management Æ Strategy innovation Æ
JEL Classiﬁcations O31 Æ O32
In the past three decades, quite a few ﬁrms such as GE, HP, and 3M in America,
and Haier, Zhongxin Communications, and Baosteel Group in China, have
undergone rapid growth with remarkable innovations. In China, Haier stands out
as an excellent example. Over the past 17 years, Haier has witnessed an annual
sales increase of 78% and has made signiﬁcant achievements in innovation. It
now produces a wide range of household electrical appliances in 86 categories
and 13,000 speciﬁcations. Haier’s now also export products to 160 countries.
Why do these ﬁrms have a long history of adapting and thriving through
successive rainstorms of creative destruction in a turbulent and changing world?
This paper was under the project #70372018 supported by NSFC
Q. Xu (&) Æ J. Chen Æ Z. Xie Æ J. Liu Æ G. Zheng Æ Y. Wang
Research Center for Innovation and Development, Zhejiang University,
Hangzhou 310027, P.R. China
J Technol Transfer (2007) 32:9–25
Total Innovation Management: a novel paradigm
of innovation management in the 21st century
Qingrui Xu Æ Jin Chen Æ Zhangshu Xie Æ
Jingjiang Liu Æ Gang Zheng Æ Yong Wang
Published online: 3 November 2006
Ó Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006
How has Haier managed to achieve such a rapid growth in only 18 years? What
are the major factors behind the growth? Most ﬁrms have tried to enhance their
competitiveness, but only a few have managed to make signiﬁcant strides in
reinventing and revitalizing themselves. Under what conditions, then, is rein-
venting and revitalizing possible? Based on the success of some Chinese ﬁrms,
and on the innovation management experience of well-known companies in the
world like GE, HP, and 3M, this paper is aimed at answering these questions and
drawing some general conclusions about the conditions under which successful
innovation management can take place. The following observations further
underscore the motivations for this study.
Since the 1990s, ﬁrms have had to confront highly complex and turbulent envi-
ronments. Management of technology and innovation presents ongoing challenges to
ﬁrms, due to the increasing cost and complexity of products and services against a
background of global competition, IT-based innovation networks, accelerating
industrial change, and of a shortening technology life cycle (TLC). Innovation is
widely regarded as central to an organization’s strategy for long-term growth and
survival in such an environment (Tucker, 2002). Firms innovate in a number of ways.
These include innovations in business models, products, services, processes, and
channels for maintaining or capturing markets, and reducing costs or prices through
greater efﬁciencies. According to the OECD’s (1996) Report on Technology, Pro-
ductivity and Job Creation, a considerable body of research shows that technological
and organizational changes are highly interconnected. Indeed, technological change
both calls for and results from organizational change. This relationship is clearly
demonstrated by the results obtained in a Danish survey of organizational and
technical innovation in 1,900 Danish private ﬁrms: 68% of the ﬁrms that had
undertaken major organizational changes from 1993 to 1995 had also introduced new
products or services. The corresponding ﬁgure for ﬁrms that had not undertaken
major organizational changes was only 34%. In fact, some leading ﬁrms that had
undertaken major organizational changes reported that organizational innovation
took place in order to strengthen the ability of the ﬁrm to continuously develop new
products or services and renew the ﬁrm’s knowledge base. HP is a good example of
gaining long-term fast growth through implementation of total innovation man-
agement (see Menke, Xu, & Gu, forthcoming for more details).
China has been one of the fastest growing users of the Internet in the world. Now,
more than ever, Chinese ﬁrms are competing in an environment of sophisticated
customer needs and fast product life cycles. In the networking environment, the
increasing intensity of market competition and increasing customer demands (for
individualization, time to market and uniqueness) present a new challenge to Chi-
nese enterprises. To win in this turbulent market, they can not simply depend only
on high production efﬁciency, adequate quality, and ﬂexibility, but must satisfy
customer’s demands for individualization faster than their competitors. Leading
ﬁrms clearly recognize these challenges and understand that comprehensive and
synergistic innovations encompassing multiple organizational units and components
are required to succeed. This broad conceptualization of innovation is what we
develop in this paper as the Total Innovation Management (TIM) model. It is indeed
exciting to observe that leading ﬁrms in China, realizing the importance of synergy
among the elements of innovation and the great contribution of total innovation to
achieving growth, have put total innovation management into practice through full
use of information technology. In China, Haier is a good example of total innovation
10 Q. Xu et al.
management practice gradually building up global competitive advantage (Xu, Zhu,
Zheng, & Wang, forthcoming provides more details).
We put forward a new paradigm—the TIM, based on the system thinking of
traditional innovation management and in-depth case studies of leading edge ﬁrms
both at home and abroad. This new paradigm combines the insights and coherence
of the traditional innovation management view with the more relevant portfolio
innovation management view, and mainly draws on three distinct areas of recent
research: the innovation theory of the ﬁrm, the resource-based view (RBV) of ﬁrm,
and the complexity theory. The paper is structured as follows: Sect. 2 reviews the
literature of innovation management, Sect. 3 analyzes the theoretical foundations of
TIM, and Sect. 4 develops a theoretical framework for TIM. Discussions, conclusions
and future research directions are presented in the last section.
2 Literature review
Schumpeter (Schumpeter, 1934) ﬁrst put forward the concept of ‘‘innovation.’’ He
deﬁned ‘‘innovation’’ as the new combination of factors of production made by the
entrepreneur and thought innovation was the critical driving force of economic
growth. Schumpeter’s concept of innovation involved production innovation, process
innovation, market innovation, use of new raw materials and getting materials in
new ways, and organizational innovation. Schumpeter paved the way for innovation
theory research. Following him, many scholars shifted the focus of innovation
research from economic growth at the macro level to enterprises innovation man-
agement at the micro level to illuminate the ‘‘black box’’ of innovation within ﬁrms.
Reviewing the main research on innovation management helps identify ﬁve phases,
as outlined in the following sections.
2.1 First-phase: research on individual innovation (1940s–1950s)
It was in the 1940s that systematic research on innovation of enterprises at the micro
level began to take place. Inﬂuenced by Schumpeter’s theory of innovation, research
during the 1940s and 1950s was based on the theory of the ‘‘entrepreneur as the
driving force of innovation’’ and mainly studied the material innovation process, the
success factors affecting innovation, and the driving forces of innovation (Freeman,
1988; Myer & Marquis, 1969; Rothwell, 1992). In this beginning phase of innovation,
the basic problems of innovation were still unsettled and research focused on the
separate components. The outstanding characteristic of this phase of innovation
theory research was the research philosophy of individual innovation management.
2.2 Second-phase: research on organizational promotion (1960s–1970s)
As the theoretical research on innovation advanced, academic studies touched more
and more on specialized ﬁelds of innovation. Building on the theoretical outcomes of
the ﬁrst phase, the second phase of innovation research mainly studied the sources of
innovation within organizations and focused on how to attain the objective of inno-
vation and promote innovation in organizations through effective management of
R&D activities. In fact, research during the second phase mainly studied R&D
department and its activities. The main contributions in this research phase were
Total Innovation Management 11
those of Abernathy and Utterback (1975). Their ‘‘U–A’’ pattern divided the
evolutionary pattern of product innovation, process innovation and industrial orga-
nization into three phases: ﬂuid phase, transitional phase and speciﬁc phase, and
linked these to the product life cycle.
2.3 Third-phase: research on outsider involvement (1970s)
Research in the third phase focused on the important role of users on innovation and
the innovation process. The main question is how companies can employ effectively
users as a key source of innovation. The main advocate of this thought was Eric von
Hippel, who put forward the concept of ‘‘User as Innovator’’ and then ‘‘Lead User’’
(von Hippel, 1988). Today, more attention is paid to the idea of users as innovation
sources. For example, Stephen M. Shapiro (Shapiro, 2001) thought that ﬁrms should
invite users into the process of R&D in a co-innovation partnership. He advanced
the method of ‘‘lead user,’’ and developed the methods of ﬁnding innovation sources
in ‘‘betrayed users’’ and ‘‘potential users.’’
The essence of the second and third research phases is the sources of innovation.
The second research phase emphasized internal promotion of innovation and the third
research phase emphasized interactive promotion of internal (R&D) and external
sources (users). The perspective of these two phases on driving forces is mechanistic
and linear, and is based on the philosophy of Newton’s classical mechanics.
2.4 Fourth-phase: research on portfolio, integrated and systematic innovation
The ﬁrst three research phases of innovation theory focused not on the interactive
mechanisms and relationships among the components of innovation, but on indi-
vidual innovation processes, activities and components, which are the individual
components in the ﬁve innovation forms cited by Schumpeter (1934). Beginning in
the 1980s, when organizations had to set more ambitious goals for innovation
effectiveness in order to adapt to changing situations, the limitations of the tradi-
tional theory of patterns of innovation became more apparent. Based on the system
theory, some scholars (particularly some Asian scholars) shifted the research focus
from individual components in the innovation system to the interactive relationships
of these components, thereby arriving at portfolio innovation theory.
The research and practice of portfolio innovation theory went through four ever-
deepening phases: products portfolio innovation, technology portfolio innovation
(Xu, Chen, & Guo, 1997), portfolios of various innovations (Kim, 1996; Wu, 1995),
and portfolio innovation based on core competences (Xu, Chen, & Guo, 1998).
Portfolio innovation theory is currently the predominant innovation management
pattern and involves at least ﬁve portfolio forms: coordination between product
innovation and process innovation, coordination between radical innovation and
incremental innovation, coordination between implicit innovation beneﬁts
and explicit innovation beneﬁts, coordination between technology innovation and
organizational culture innovation, and coordination between independent internal
innovation and cooperative external innovation (Xu et al., 1997; Xu, Guo, Pei, &
Shen, 1997; Xu & Chen, 2001). Likewise, Hardy and Dougherty (1997), through
empirical case studies, revealed that an enterprise’s sustained product innovation
competence is affected by organizational process and architecture.
12 Q. Xu et al.
During the fourth research phase of innovation study, driven by portfolio inno-
vation theory at the end of the 20th century, innovation theory further evolved into
integrated innovation theory and systematic innovation theory (Iansiti, 1998; Jiang &
Chen, 2000; Tidd, Bessant, & Pavitt, 2001). Integrated innovation stresses the
creative integration of existing innovative elements, which demonstrates, to a certain
degree, a systematic way of thinking. Many scholars have researched the concept of
enterprise innovation systems (Chen, 1999; Padmore, Schuetze, & Gibson, 1998).
Janszen (2000) sees enterprise innovation as a complex self-adaptive system. Tucker
(2002) proposed ﬁve principles of innovative management. They include the prin-
ciple that innovation should be comprehensive, involving R&D department and
other departments; the principle that innovation should seek new opportunities
organizationally, systematically and continually; and the principle that innovation
must involve every member of the organization. All of these principles embody a
systematic and comprehensive way of thinking.
By breaking away from the previous linear thinking pattern and pointing out the
signiﬁcant effects of the matching and interaction between each subsystem and
component in the performance of innovation systems, the system-theory-based
innovation theories that were developed in the fourth phase focused on the orga-
nizations and institutions (understood in a comprehensive sense) involved in the
generation of technology innovation (Coriat & Weinstein, 2002).
2.5 Fifth-phase: research on TIM (21st century)
In the 21st century, innovation theories are developing toward a higher level and
many scholars are conducting innovation theory research based on the ecosystem
theory. The focus of the next research phase is the TIM, deﬁned as innovation by
anyone at any time in all processes, among different functions and around the
world. Researchers increasingly emphasize the idea of inspiring each employee’s
creativity and making everyone an innovator (Shapiro, 2001; Wheatley, 2001;
Tucker, 2002). Bean and Radford (2001) pointed out that innovation should be
considered a business and that innovation should take place in every aspect. Due
to ﬁerce competition and more rigorous requirements of customers, Shapiro (2001)
indicated that enterprises should try to realize 24/7 innovation in order to respond
in a timely fashion to the needs of customers. Some scholars think that the
emergence of new organization forms such as outsourcing and strategic alliance
have advanced the globalization of R&D, manufacture, and marketing (Chen,
2002). At the conference of ISMOT & ICMIT of Hangzhou in 2002, Xu and
colleagues (Xu, Yu, Zheng, & Zhou, 2002) ﬁrst put forth the systematic man-
agement theory of TIM. The ﬁfth phase of innovation research aims at developing
the TIM model to guide total innovation management in enterprises. The devel-
opment course of innovation theory can be brieﬂy summarized as shown in
3 The theoretical foundation of TIM
In this paper, TIM is deﬁned as the reinvention and management of an innovation
value network that dynamically integrates the conception, strategy, technology
(including IT base), structure and business process, culture, and people at all levels
Total Innovation Management 13
of an organization. TIM aims to enhance the innovation competence of the com-
pany, create value for stakeholders, and sustain competitive advantage.
The framework of total innovation management mainly draws on innovation
theory, as described in detail in Sect. 2, as well as on two distinct areas of recent
research: core competence theory and complexity theory.
3.1 Core competence theory
The resource-based view of the ﬁrm (Barney, 1991; Peteraf, 1993; Prahalad &
Hamel, 1990; Teece, Pisano, & Shuen, 1997; Wernerfelt, 1984) indicates that a ﬁrm is
a bundle of assets and capabilities. Firms gain competitive advantage by accumu-
lating strategic assets and capabilities. Therefore, innovation management efforts
should be focused on nurturing and enhancing these capabilities.
The core competence-based view argues that the core competencies of corpora-
tions (especially coordination and integration capabilities linking multiple
organizational areas) are the collective learning in the organization and the source of
sustainable competitive advantage. Therefore, the practice of innovation manage-
ment should be integrated with cultivating and heightening core competencies
(Barton, 1992; Hamel & Heene, 1994; Heene & Sanchez, 1997; Patel & Pavitt, 1997;
Prahalad & Hamel, 1990; Sanchez & Heene, 1997).
The dynamic capabilities (Teece & Pisano, 1994) view indicates that compet-
itive advantage comes through leveraging the managerial and organizational
processes of a ﬁrm, and is shaped by the strategic positioning of its assets and
available paths. Eisenhardt and Martin (2000) argued that dynamic capabilities
can be used to not only enhance existing resource conﬁgurations in the pursuit of
long-term competitive advantage, but very frequently also used to build new
resource conﬁgurations in the pursuit of temporary advantages. In dynamic
markets, where the competitive landscape is shifting, the dynamic capabilities by
which managers ‘‘integrate, build, and reconﬁgure internal and external compe-
tencies to address rapidly changing environments’’ (Teece et al., 1997) become
Table 1 Development course of innovation theory
Myer and Marquis;
Roberts; Utterback Newton classical
Third phase (1970s) Outsiders involved
User as innovator
von Hippel Newton classical
Menke; Xu; Guo; Chen;
TIM Xu (2001, 2002); Shapiro (2001);
Bean and Radford (2002);
Research in ﬁrst phase is further done by Roy Rothwell and Chris Freeman in 1970s
14 Q. Xu et al.
the source of sustainable competitive advantage (Eisenhardt & Martin, 2000; Luo,
2000; Markides, 1999; Teece & Pisano, 1994; Teece et al., 1997).
The resource-based view focuses on the control and exploitation of resources. The
core competence-based view concentrates on competence as the source of sustain-
able competitive advantage. The dynamic capabilities view focuses on positions,
processes and paths to ‘‘integrate, build, and reconﬁgure internal and external
competencies to address rapidly changing environments’’ (Teece et al., 1997).
Therefore, innovation management should follow the appropriate pattern, path,
mechanism and measurement to rapidly integrate, build, and reconﬁgure internal
and external competencies.
3.2 Complexity theory
In certain conditions, a managerial system will exhibit an increasing effect of
systematic entropy value—that is, will manifest an evolution of the managerial
system from order to disorder. In other conditions, the managerial system, as an
open system not in equilibrium, will form a systematic dissipative structure—that is,
will manifest an evolution of the managerial system from disorder to order. Nelson
and Winter (1982) claimed that the mechanism of innovation process is an evolu-
tionary system, called innovation evolutionism, based on the theory of biological
evolution and Schumpeter’s innovation perspective.
A ﬁrm’s innovation management is not a one-time event, but rather a high-risk,
interactive, distributed non-linear sequence—an extremely complex system requir-
ing real-time, dynamic coordination and integration of strategy, technology
(including IT base), structure, business process, culture, and people, all of which are
continually changing and often geographically dispersed. Van de Ven, Polley,
Garud, and Venkataraman (1999) indicated that the innovation journey is neither
sequential and orderly nor random; instead, it is a nonlinear dynamic cycle of
divergent and convergent activities that repeat over time and across levels, if
enabling and constraining conditions are present. They further emphasized that
people cannot control the innovation process, but can learn to maneuver it by
developing ambidextrous management skills. According to these authors, enabling
and constraining factors set the innovation scope (Van de Ven et al., 1999).
Therefore, in terms of complexity theory, innovation management is also focused on
decreasing the effect of systematic entropy value and enhancing the effectiveness
and efﬁciency of managerial systems.
4 The theoretical framework of TIM
In this part, a theoretical framework of TIM is proposed. The focus of this part is
innovation or tri-comprehensiveness or tri-totality in innovation. The ﬁrst
‘‘totality’’ includes innovation in all technological and non-technological elements
(strategy, culture, organization, institution, and market). The second ‘‘totality’’
relates to innovation by all individuals involved. The third ‘‘totality’’ is innovation
at all time and in all spaces. This TIM framework emphasizing tri-comprehen-
siveness or tri-totality is based on theoretical frameworks we reviewed earlier,
‘‘ ’’ is the Chinese word, pronounced ‘‘quan’’, for ‘‘all’’ or ‘‘total’’ or ‘‘comprehensive.’’
Total Innovation Management 15
and the empirical observations of leading edge ﬁrm practices. TIM is an emerging
paradigm that incorporates important contributions from earlier research while
emphasizing the importance of ecosystem thinking. Figure 1 depicts the TIM
From an ecosystem perspective, TIM not only emphasizes the synergistic linkage
among all inherent elements, but also emphasizes that all employees are innovators
and that innovation is realized in the totality of time/space of an enterprise and
beyond. TIM may be deﬁned as an ecological system (see Fig. 2) directed by strategy
innovation. Its function is to accumulate and enhance core competency to win
sustainable competitive advantage.
4.1 The major components of the TIM framework
This section introduces the key components of TIM and their respective roles. We
emphasize that TIM relates to innovation in all organizational sectors, all employees
and covers all time and space dimensions. Each element plays a key role in the
practice of TIM and is an integral part of the TIM framework (see Fig. 3).
The all-elements innovation, as Fig. 4 shows, can be described as creating
synergy between the technological (mainly product, process, and portfolio) and
non-technological (mainly market, organization, and institution) areas in an
organization through effective tools and facilitating mechanisms that encourage
and regulate innovation by every employee.
Haken (1984), the founder of Synergetics, points out that synergy mainly relates
the associated operations of many sub-systems (generally the same or different
species) to give birth to an orderly structure and systemic function at a macroscopic
level. In the framework of TIM, there exist close relationships of synergistic inno-
vation among different elements in the ﬁrm’s innovation system. The synergistic
relationship between technological innovation and non-technological innovation can
be deﬁned with technology as the key element (technological innovation always
requires the relative adjustment of marketing, institution, and organization) and the
non-technological as subsidiary elements (non-technological innovation re-deploys
and better integrates a ﬁrm’s resources, including human resources, to facilitate
technological innovation that satisﬁes customer needs). We go over these key
elements further below.
Portfolio Innovation (PI)
Fig. 1 The three levels of innovation management
16 Q. Xu et al.
First, technological innovation will be the key innovation element. Technological
innovation is the key source for enterprises to gain core competence and,
accordingly, to obtain sustainable competitive advantage. This is especially true
for Chinese ﬁrms that are still in the developmental stage where the technological
level lags signiﬁcantly behind Western companies. These ﬁrms must put more
emphasis on technological innovation to keep up with transnational companies
that possess advanced technologies. Of course, many leading ﬁrms in the world
now put more emphasis on non-technological innovation. Wolfe (1994) reported
that, in the 5 years preceding that study, approximately 350 dissertations and
1,300 journal articles were written on the topic of organizational innovation. All
Value added and created
Fig. 2 The framework of TIM
Fig. 4 All-elements innovation of TIM
Innovative tools and mechanism
Innovative time/space scopeInnovative tools and mechanism
All-elements innovation All-time/space innovation
Fig. 3 Constituents of the framework of TIM
Total Innovation Management 17
of the non-technological innovations in these ﬁrms are mainly used to promote
the generation of technological innovation (new products or services) to exploit
new markets more quickly for greater revenues. Technological innovation always
calls for organizational and institutional innovations (Colombo & Delmastro,
2002). For example, the rule of ‘‘15% free time for workers’’ at 3M is intended to
produce more new technology. So is the new working team for the development
of Inkjet at HP. So TIM must regard technological innovation as the key and
foundation, particularly for Chinese ﬁrms. (Obviously, for service enterprises,
service innovation is the key).
4.1.1 Marketing innovation will become the foundation
Marketing innovation means the innovation in marketing channels, tactics and
operating methods. Only when new technology has been commercialized success-
fully, can it create or add new value. To accomplish new product commercialization
more effectively and quickly, marketing innovation is needed as a foundation for
technology innovation. It provides needed information and builds up new product
sale channels and methods.
4.1.2 Organizational innovation will provide the structural context
When an enterprise grows to a certain scale, a traditional pyramidal structure would
easily cause overstafﬁng, low efﬁciency, and slow response speed. Such changes in
structure will ultimately have a negative impact on the innovative performance and
competitiveness of the enterprise. Innovative enterprises require a ﬂatter and more
network oriented structure. Organizational structure must be adjusted in a timely
manner to accommodate the need for innovation.
4.1.3 Institutional innovation will provide the stimulation
Institutional innovation can be deﬁned externally as innovation in the rules and
regulations governing an enterprise’s routine management, performance evaluation,
staff reward and punishment, salary system, training and promotion. Innovations in
these areas should occur in a timely manner, according to internal and external
changes of environment, in order to meet the requirements of total innovation.
Cultural innovation is a pre-condition of institutional innovation.
As culture is the intrinsic factor of institution, its innovation is an evolving process
of idea sharing among all employees within technological innovation, directed at
greater innovation value. Innovation in thought is the prerequisite for carrying out
any innovation. If ideas can’t change according to changed situations, there will not
be an outstanding innovative spirit. Strong innovative culture is the key factor that
inﬂuences effective and continuous innovation in enterprises, witness for example
the inﬂuence of innovation culture at 3M.
Employees are the executors of the total innovation management. We therefore
now focus on all employees as innovators. Everyone possesses the capability to deal
with complexity and interconnection. Creativity and commitment are the greatest
resources for innovation. According to Porter’s (1980) value chain analysis, every
value creating activity embodies special technologies. Therefore, technological
improvements will inﬂuence all value creating activities and ultimately ﬁrm
18 Q. Xu et al.
competitive advantage. More importantly since all these value creating activities are
carried out by employees, effective human resources practices become key for ﬁrm
survival and success. Studies in the survival rate of IPO ﬁrms provide conﬁrming
evidence (Pfeffer, 1999).
The TIM paradigm advocates commitments and participations in innovation by
all employees to produce its competitive advantage impact (Shapiro, 2001;
Wheatley, 2001). We believe that innovation is no longer the function of R&D
personnel alone, but the expected behavior and practice of all employees. All per-
sonnel, from sales, manufacturing, and R&D to customer service, administration,
and the ﬁnancial department are outstanding innovation sources (Wheatley, 2001).
Furthermore, within the TIM framework, we believe that innovation is not a simple
call from the top for every employee to get involved in the process of innovation, but
should be a process that involves ﬁve types of transformation: (1) from specialist
innovation to collective innovation (let everyone be an innovator); (2) from ‘‘force
me to innovate’’ to ‘‘I want to innovate’’ (let everyone take part in innovation
actively and proactively); (3) from isolated innovations to harmonious innovations
(integrating everyone’s innovative action into the organization); (4) from focusing
on development of the organization to co-development of organization and indi-
vidual (to drive ﬁrm’s growth and satisfy staff needs at the same time); and (5) from
single function innovations to multi-function innovation (to maximize the impact of
innovation). Studies after studies have demonstrated that if employees are encour-
aged to take part in and learn the entire process of one job, they will show greater
innovative performance (Hammer & Champy, 1993; Johannessen, Olsen, & Olaisen,
1999). In order to drive the ﬁve transformations to realize the all innovator goal,
thought and values must change, and organization and institution must be rede-
signed to create an innovative atmosphere in the ﬁrm. As Bill Hewlett (one of the
co-founders of HP), said, ‘‘Men and women want to do a good job, a creative job,
and if they are provided the proper environment, they will do.’’ GE may provide
another example. Since the 1980s, GE has advanced a comprehensive ‘‘work-out’’
system aimed at making every GE employee an innovator. Based on the ‘‘work-out’’
implementation, GE evolves towards TIM by facilitating continuous organizational
culture change, bureaucracy busting, and innovation empowerment.
Moving beyond innovation across all organizational elements and every employee
as an innovator, we now focus on innovation activities taking place at all time and in
all locations, or all time/space innovation, as the activity pattern of innovation.
Innovation in an organization should take place all times, all places, all things and all
chains involved in innovation. According to the TIM framework, innovation pene-
trates into all time/space of a ﬁrm: through synergistic innovation of technological
and non-technological elements, effective mechanisms, methods, and tools can be
created to move everyone to innovate in every time, at every place, on everything
and every chain, so as to improve innovation performance as much as possible in a
sustainable way. All-time/space innovation enlarges the scope to require and
encourage all elements and all people to be involved in the continuous process of
innovation. For example, HP has always encouraged achievement and contribution
by everyone and tries to provide the tools and training to make it work (Packard,
Kirby, & Lewis, 1995). Innovation by everyone leads to innovation in all business
functions, in all aspects of the supply chain, and in all aspects of product life cycle
management. It is even increasingly global among HP organizations and also (by
collaborative development) customers, partners and suppliers. As a result, HP has
Total Innovation Management 19
an increasingly improvisational approach to new product generation, with 25 patent
applications daily (Menke et al., forthcoming). To describe in detail, the ‘‘4-W’’
(when, where, what, whole) model is used for analysis of the all-time/space aspect of
TIM (see Fig. 5).
Businesses today face increasing competition and customer demands for prompt
responses. This type of competitive environment calls for innovations to be carried
out at all times. Thus, we emphasize that innovation occur at any time. This answers
the ‘‘when’’ question. Enterprises must make every effort to realize 24/7 innovation
(innovation throughout 7 days of every week, 24 h of every day) (Shapiro, 2001).
Innovative enterprises should encourage immediate innovation in the moment akin
to writers’ or musicians’ improvisations.
When it comes to the ‘‘what’’ question, we advocate that innovations occur
throughout all processes. Traditional organizational processes are based on functions
and specializations, which often lead to separation of processes from each other. As
a result, no one is responsible for the overall process, and no one is really responsible
to customers. This approach makes it difﬁcult to adapt to the customer-centered new
economy. With the increasingly individualized demand of customers, innovation
should no longer be regarded as only the function of the R&D process, but of all
processes. Only by embodying innovation in each process can enterprises better
meet the real demands of customer.
Furthermore, the innovation ought to take place across the global. So we
identify ‘‘where’’ with a global innovation emphasis. With the rapid development
of economic globalization, e-commerce, and the networked economy, the
boundary of an enterprise becomes difﬁcult to identify. With the rise of new
organizational forms, such as outsourcing, strategic alliance, and virtual organi-
zation, the boundary of an enterprise transcends the restrictions of the
geographical region, industry and even country. This has promoted the global-
ization of key value creating activities such as R&D, manufacture, and marketing.
Many transnational enterprises (Microsoft and Nokia, for instance) have set up
R&D centers or bases throughout the world to carry on innovation, in order to
combine global scientiﬁc and technological resources. Nokia has 55 R&D
organizations located in 14 countries, totaling more than 19,000 R&D personnel.
Some leading Chinese ﬁrms like Haier Group, Legend Group, and Baosteel
Fig. 5 All-time/space
innovation of TIM
20 Q. Xu et al.
Group are paying more attention to innovation under a vision of globalization.
For example, Haier has realized the globalization of all innovation processes, with
15 R&D centers, 6 design branches, and 10 S&T information stations located
throughout Europe, North America and the Asia-Paciﬁc region.
Finally it is important to focus on the wholeness in innovation or innovation
throughout the whole value chain. With the evolution of innovation management
theory and practice, and the change in market environment, has come the realization
that, no matter how the information network in an enterprise develops, it is unable
to obtain all of the users’ information and consequently is unable to fully meet users’
individualized demands. For this reason, innovation must transcend the borders of
enterprises, integrating users into the innovation system of enterprises and making
them the most important innovation source, in order to really meet users’ demands
(Shapiro, 2001; von Hippel, 1988). Similarly, all resources throughout the value
chain, such as suppliers, dealers and stockholders, should also be integrated into idea
creation, R&D, and product design. Practices worldwide have proved that, by
integrating the science and technology (S&T) resources of the entire value chain as
innovators, innovation performance can be improved greatly, and innovation cost
can be reduced, because of sharing with the whole value chain at the same time.
4.2 The linkage between TIM and strategy innovation
In a complex and dynamic market, only continuous innovation can drive a ﬁrm’s
sustainable growth and proﬁts. But in the process of innovation, ﬁrms often drive
themselves into ‘‘the war of innovative attrition’’ (Braun, 1997), and lead to the so
called innovator’s dilemma (Christensen, 1997). Much research and practice has
proven that, to overcome this dilemma, innovation must be brought into the
framework of the ﬁrm’s strategy and serve the process of business strategy changes
(Janszen, 2000; Rothwell, 1992, 1994; Roussel, Saad, & Erickson, 1991; Xu, 2000).
The implementation of TIM undergoes three transformations. They include from
single innovation to total innovation, from separate innovation to integrated inno-
vation, and from a focus on only the internal resources of ﬁrm to an emphasis on the
integration of internal and eternal resources. Thus innovation will not only be the
responsibility of some people or functions, but an integrated strategic process for
adding and creating value. TIM should be integrated with the corporate innovation
strategy, such as R&D (Roussel et al., 1991). Organizational and institutional
innovation (Janszen, 2000) should support strategy implementation. According to
institutional economics, there are two preconditions for the establishment of an
institutional innovation: one is that the innovation alters latent proﬁts and the other
is that the cost of innovation must be less than the proﬁts added (Davis & North,
1970). TIM calls for all functions and all employees to be involved in total innova-
tion—the resources put into innovation will be much greater and the cost of TIM
implementation will increase accordingly. Therefore, if TIM is not linked with
innovation strategy so that it creates more value in the market than it costs, TIM will
not receive supported and subsequently will not be carried out.
The linkage of TIM to strategy innovation is illustrated in Fig. 6. Due to the
increasingly turbulent and uncertain environment that enterprises face, strategy
should remain relatively stable but avoid rigidity. As the internal and external
environments change, the enterprise’s strategy should be adjusted in a timely
manner and kept in a dynamic balance. Through TIM implementation, dynamic
Total Innovation Management 21
competences, including organizational skills, technologic competence, environment
adaptation, and all employees’ knowledge and skills, will be improved and better
feedback will promote strategy innovation.
As illustrated in Fig. 6, the linkage between TIM and strategy innovation starts
with the corporate strategy. Afﬁrming the interaction between innovation and strat-
egy, TIM pervades the enterprise, not only satisfying the need for implementation of
corporation strategy, but also fostering and accumulating dynamic competence to
facilitate strategic plans. We discuss the linkage along three totalities identiﬁed in
TIM, namely all elements, all employees and all time and space innovation.
Strategy encompasses corporate aims as well as resources deployed, and
focuses on technological and product development (Roussel et al., 1991;
Rothwell, 1992, 1994; Xu, 2000). Organizational structure, process, and corporate
institutions also should be matched to the strategy (Janszen, 2000; Teece et al.,
1997; Xu, 2000). The all-element innovation of TIM aims to leverage organiza-
tional skills and technological competence by optimizing the resource allocation
and tapping new market opportunities effectively.
In the framework of TIM, a ﬁrm’s innovation is no longer driven by individual
actions from the top down but by collective actions in downward and upward
patterns, to advance corporation strategy quickly and effectively. The linkage of all
innovators to innovation strategy can be described as people-oriented—new
corporate strategy should be linked to the work of every employee. The organiza-
tion’s resources and responsibility for satisfying consumer’s demands should be
distributed across every work team and person, allowing everyone to become a self-
managed innovator. This would create an innovative environment that energizes
everyone to focus on the implementation of new corporate strategy.
5 Discussions, conclusion and future research directions
5.1 Summary and contributions
The core issues in the ﬁeld of innovation management are innovation itself and the
synergy between the technological and non-technological elements (strategy, cul-
ture, organization, and institution) of innovation. The traditional view of innovation
management covered the synergistic patterns between product and process, but it
employee knowledge and skills
Fig. 6 The linkage of TIM to strategy innovation
22 Q. Xu et al.
limited itself by focusing only on these two innovation elements. The portfolio
innovation management view insists on innovation synergies among technology,
organization, and culture to build up innovation competence, and has provided more
extension and pertinence, but did not take the time-space dimension of innovation
management into account. Therefore, based on case studies of ﬁrms at home and
abroad, we introduced in this paper a new paradigm of innovation manage-
ment—total innovation management (TIM).
This paper has focused mainly on two topics: the theoretical framework of TIM
and the practical relevance of TIM. The theoretical framework addresses the fol-
lowing questions: (1) the content of TIM and (2) innovation’s mechanisms and
patterns of synergies between technological and non-technological elements. The
synergy is addressed according to three aspects: (1) environmental promotion—the
requirements of the complex and changeable Internet environment; (2) practical
needs—the requirements of total innovation practice in ﬁrm; and (3) the importance
of organizational culture in enabling successful total innovation management.
The main contributions of the new paradigm of TIM are as follows. The TIM
offers a distinctive view on the core issues as well as new directions for the inno-
vation management ﬁeld. The paradigm of TIM stresses the synergies between the
technological and non-technological elements of innovation. Furthermore, it
proposes an extension to the portfolio innovation management view and offers a
more dynamic, and integrative, theoretical framework for the ﬁeld of innovation
management. It takes the time and space dimension of innovation management into
account and also holds the view that all people are innovators. The paradigm of TIM
provides a basis for an upgraded, more uniﬁed, and better-attuned view of the core
issues of the innovation management ﬁeld.
5.2 Policy implications and future research directions
There are several important theoretical and policy implications. TIM is a journey,
not a destination, towards enhanced ﬁrm competence. It isn’t an annual, quick ﬁx,
slogan-based management approach, but rather a long-term, competence-based
management philosophy for achieving sustainable competitive advantage involving
all people at every aspect and level of organization at all time and across all space.
TIM is about corporate survival and growth—therefore, top management must seek
meaningful involvement for successful total innovation management. TIM further-
more is a long-term process of organizational learning. In conclusion, TIM is a very
signiﬁcant path to reinvent and revitalize companies competing in the 21st century.
This paper provides a preliminary introduction to the TIM model. We believe
four future research directions are worthwhile. They include the strategy of TIM,
and its formulation and implementation; the critical success factors related to TIM;
the dynamic relationship between organizational learning and TIM; and ﬁnally the
measurement of the TIM and the associated performance impact of TIM.
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