Keywords: disruptive innovation, funding routines, portfolio management, resource allocation, mental models, management resistance, innovation management, radical innovation, innovation rejection
Allocating resources to disruptive innovation projects: challenging mental models and overcoming management resistance
This research, based on four in-depth case studies, probes an overlooked unit of analysis in innovation management literature, namely, management action and cognition, and offers a new qualitative contribution into resource allocation approaches that support radical innovation. The interpretivist approach revealed that a management team's resource and path dependencies and prevailing mental models underpin resource allocation routines, which prevent managers from pursuing radical innovations. Of particular interest were the innovations that disrupt and re-shape the existing terms of economic engagement in established industries. It was found that managers with restrictive mental models will adopt up to five disruptive innovation rejection strategies: rewarding incrementalism; ignoring the positive aspects of disruptive innovations; focusing on historical perceptions of success; creating perceptions of success with high effort; and holding beliefs in the face of disconfirming information. Initial longitudinal data suggests that rejection strategies can be overcome with holistic portfolio approaches.