Can innovation be measured? A framework of how measurement of innovation engages attention in firms


Journal of Engineering and Technology Management

avril-juin 2018, vol. 48, pp.64-75

Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

Mots clés : Innovation management, Key performance measurement, Measuring innovation, Attention, Attention based theory, Process model, Exploration and exploitation, Conversational measurement, Directional measurement

Many firms manage the innovation process by using metrics. Yet, whether measurement supports or hinders innovation continues to be a topic of debate. To shed new light on this debate, this paper presents a conceptual framework of how measurement engages attention in firms. We draw on attention based theory and conceptualize innovation measurement as an attention-focusing device. We identify two ideal types of measurement practices. i) Directional Measurement: which is based on few and unidirectional metrics and encourages exploitative innovation efforts. ii) Conversational Measurement: which is based on multiple and ambiguous metrics and encourages exploration. We extend theory building in the technology and accounting literatures by theorizing the role of metrics and measurement for attention and by discussing the implications of such attentional engagement for innovation performance. In so doing, we engage closely with the managerial task of managing innovation while simplifying its conditions, thereby providing actionable advice