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Constraints and complications of innovation in content development: Case Yle in Finland
Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School, JIBS, Business Administration. Jönköping University, Jönköping International Business School, JIBS, Media Management and Transformation Centre (MMTC).
2015 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In the current turbulent environment, media organisations are expected to be on the leading edge of innovation to survive – and especially to thrive. However, the established practices and preferred work patterns of traditional organizations impose systemic constraints on the realization of media innovations (Ess 2014). Research into creativity leading to innovation in media organizations has been scarce, and similarly case studies about creative work practices (Mierzejewska 2011, Hesmondhalgh & Baker 2011, Küng 2008). Addressing these topics in media management research is an urgent need.

This paper explores theoretical assumptions regarding the realization of innovation in creative media work. The literature and previous research on creativity (as the prerequisite for innovation), especially organizational creativity in the workplace and operationalizing innovation (as the outcome of creativity), as well as studies on management of both interdependent aspects, are utilized. Special emphasis is placed on the constraints (see e.g. Rosso 2014), conflicts and complications of crossing boundaries and borders in a creative media organisation striving for innovation.

Achieving innovation in media content requires management expertise in development work. This work differs from routine production because it requires experimentation and involves higher risk of failures. Further, content development work presupposes creative organization capabilities, rather than the traditional emphasis on efficiency and uniformity via standardisation (see Mintzberg 1989 for innovative organization). Theories on creativity and innovation suggest that new things come from differences ‘colliding’ (e.g. Amabile et al. 2005), i.e. result from variation in e.g. makers, genres or media. Sustaining innovation creates a complex and paradoxical situation because managers must on the one hand ‘back off’ and allow for failures and individual proclivities that are characteristic in development work, which depends on creativity, while at the same time they must create and enforce procedures to ensure the work meets stipulated objectives and achieves a useful outcome. This often leads to conflict because organisations have political systems with varying interests and understandings. This fuels power struggles and creates complications as a routine fact of organizational dynamics (Morgan 2006, see also Mintzberg et al. 2005).

Media production requires diverse specialists and a creative organisation spans levels from the individual to teams and all of this contextualized in an organisational work culture that is often actually a range of work cultures. An organization features a dynamic that is simultaneously interdependent and controversial. Focusing on one aspect is not sufficient for understanding the totality. However, creativity and innovation have been sparsely studied using multi-level perspectives and this approach is vital for understanding creativity leading to innovations in media management theory and in the practice of media organizations. Because development work is a complex task, a systems perspective on creativity (see e.g. Csikzentmihalyi 2006, McIntyre 2013, Tan 1998) is a useful theoretical frame for analysing creativity and innovation management in media organizations (and beyond).

After sketching the theoretical basis, the paper analyses an empirical case: the programme development initiative that Yleisradio (Yle), the PSB of Finland, accomplished in the early to mid 2000s. The analysis emphasizes the conflict-sensitive nature of relationships that depend on interaction between innovation teams and their projects and the ongoing operations that can be understood as “the Performance Engine” (Govindarajan & Trimble 2010). The paper looks at the organizational and work setting (see e.g. Mumford 2012) in retrospect, and specifically analyzes the reasons for the initiative’s failure and dissolution despite being a good concept and a productive practice in the task of media content development.

The case usefully illustrates the paradoxes discussed in this abstract by assessing a creative organization tasked with innovation inside a traditional media company. The results demonstrate a constant need to work across boundaries and borders both within and outside the firm, keyed to complexities of many types in relationships, e.g. in ways of thinking, unit priorities and systems, media, cultures, specializations, etc. The paper explores the difficulties, conflicts and complications that are characteristic of development work, being both different from Yle’s routine operations and, at the same time, a constituent part of them. The author has access to all of the data (e.g. strategy and operational documents, personal notes, evaluations, development procedures, negotiations, etc.) for the entire period that chronicles the experiment from 2002 to 2005. The case opens valuable possibilities for learning about managing organizational creativity for innovation in a media company, and especially for understanding constraints, conflicts and complications that are typical.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015.
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-29069OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-29069DiVA: diva2:894203
Conference
emma conference 2015, The Business School of the University of Hamburg, May 28, 2015 – May 29, 2015
Available from: 2016-01-14 Created: 2016-01-14 Last updated: 2016-01-14Bibliographically approved

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