Research Topic 1

Invariances and paradigmatic underpinnings of managerial innovation


There is a certain amount of paradox to the aim of studying what management innovation does not cause to vary. Nonetheless, it is by studying the structural and fixed aspects of innovation in management that we can understand the dynamics in play and how they affect the transformation of organisations and work. We therefore propose an original approach which helps (1) highlight the essential and unvarying dimensions of management practices and (2) identify shifts from one paradigm to another.

(1) Essence and invariance of innovative management techniques and practices

The burgeoning literature over the last two decades has sought to understand the factors underpinning the emergence of managerial and/or organisational innovations. Research has considerably focused on the processes through which such innovations are adopted and disseminated, and also how they contribute to performance. Here we propose to focus part of our research on two perspectives that have received much less attention:

  • The substantive perspective (in terms of that which is the essence of a management object: the management philosophies it embodies and the invariants it helps reactivate such as integration or control);
  • The genealogical perspective (in terms of the affiliations of management techniques, as for example in the case of industrial planning systems and methods).

The linguistic dimension of management techniques is particularly relevant for this type of research. It could also be used to underpin new projects on how people speak about management innovations and the associated rhetorical and persuasion techniques (the “nudges of managerial innovation” for an illustration of the persuasion and enrolment techniques used to encourage the spread of innovation and depicting incremental changes in innovation as something radical, for example).

(2) Methods for inferring paradigmatic managerial transformations

Observing an innovative technique or practice raises the question of our ability to identify that which marks a shift. We aim to establish methodologies for inferring long-term trends in management techniques and practices. There are several underlying questions relevant to this section of the project. Which transformations of a paradigmatic nature do current management innovations reflect? Which approach can be used to highlight these profound transformations? To which parameters in the design of organisations do these transformations relate (this question is relevant for example when exploring transformations in the security of information systems)?
Levers and means of action
This programme essentially relies on two structures. The first is the Observatory of Managerial Innovation, part of the Circle of Innovation at Dauphine. The Observatory works as a monitoring tool but also incorporates a museum of management. The material collected and promoted by the Observatory can be used to move beyond simply monitoring managerial innovation. The second structure is the Governance Analytics project, one of PSL’s interdisciplinary and strategic research initiatives (IRIS), led by Collège de France, Université Paris-Dauphine, Mines ParisTech, EHESS and ENS. It brings together researchers from economics, IT, management, mathematics, political science and sociology and is based on the construction of a Data Factory designed to acquire and process data on collective decision-making mechanisms, institutional dynamics, and the way the markets and organisations function. In the first half of 2017, a project was submitted to Governance Analytics. A postdoctoral researcher with funding from the Circle of Innovation will work specifically on this project beginning in late 2017.

Key projects and events to come

Researchers involved

Highlighting invariants in management – GE project

Sébastien Damart, Albert David

Historic emergence of the concept of integration in management
Comparative lexical analysis of integrative management (M.P. Follett and O. Sheldon)

Emilie Canet, Sébastien Damart

Sébastien Damart and external DRM researchers

Linguistic approach to management: words and tools of innovation in management
Innovative conceptual methods applied to the construction/deconstruction of business pitches by start-ups

Odile Challe, Albert David and external DRM researchers
Antoine Tuillier (doctoral researcher being supervised by Albert David)

Methods borrowed from big data and data analytics with a view to inferring paradigmatic splits – MAPT project

Emilie Canet, Sébastien Damart, Yasmine Saleh and external DRM postdoc and researchers

Associated doctoral research:

Influence of serious games in managerial and organisational practices, Edouard Vinçotte (under the supervision of Sébastien Damart)