Exploring the CIS and hidden innovation in a service context
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The overall goal of this thesis is to investigate the use of the Community Innovation Survey (CIS) in a service context. The CIS is a quantitative innovation instrument originally designed to measure innovation in manufacturing but after some years expanded to be used for services innovation research also. One objective of this thesis is to determine whether the CIS is a useful instrument for measuring innovation in services. Another is to discover more about what the CIS measures and what it may not measure. The literature points out that some innovation is not identified by the CIS (hidden innovations). This thesis examines the CIS from different perspectives using tourism as an empirical service context. This thesis argues that understanding the processes behind services innovations provides better insights into the measurement of innovation and hidden innovation; for example, how innovations start and develop, and who is involved. Such knowledge may reveal how and why some innovations remain hidden. It is argued that the process of a services innovation is so crucial to the innovation outcome that it should be acknowledged in innovation measurement. This thesis addresses how the CIS tends to focus excessively on innovation output, and it is unclear whether the process that leads to services innovation is acknowledged. Consequently, this thesis investigates CIS measurement of innovation and hidden innovation by relating process perspectives on services innovation to the measurement of the services innovation output. This thesis uses both quantitative and qualitative methods/designs to investigate and analyse the research goals. It argues that such combined insights into the phenomenon will provide a deeper understanding of measurement of innovation and may contribute to the development of a better measure. Accordingly, this thesis uses a mixed methods approach to achieve the research goal. The thesis consists of four papers that contribute to the overall goal of the thesis. Paper 1 is quantitative, Paper 2 is a theoretical and methodological discussion, and Papers 3 and 4 are qualitative. The findings of the thesis reveal several examples of hidden innovation and suggest four different types of hidden innovation. These types follow one of two locally anchored services innovation processes, and both are categorized as accelerated innovation processes. One of them is a new type of service innovation process that has not been addressed in the services innovation literature previously. Additionally, because hidden innovations follow one of two accelerated processes, they seem to be either unknown, misinterpreted or forgotten by senior management. The thesis also examines the drivers of services innovation and how the inclusion of indicators of these drivers in the CIS is important to reflect distinct activities of the process of services innovation. The thesis identifies two drivers of CIS-measured innovation—“use of external information” and “use of cross-functional work-teams”—and two drivers of hidden innovation: “formal and informal evaluation”. The analysis of the CIS, CIS-measured innovation and hidden innovation suggest that there are four ways to improve the CIS for use in tourism or similar services in the future. These four areas of improvement relate to operationalization of the services innovation concept, respondents’ interpretation of questionnaires and the importance of including specific driver indicators. First, innovation should not be separated into four different innovation types as in earlier CIS surveys. Second, it should be clearer in the CIS that innovation can be a series of incremental changes that together constitute an innovation. Third, to make it easier for respondents to understand, to interpret and to answer the survey questions, the language and format should be improved, along with guidelines about the type of information required in the survey answers. Fourth, the drivers identified in the thesis should be included in future CIS questionnaires. In summary, this thesis suggests that the CIS can be used to measure innovation in tourism and services. The CIS instrument should not be dismissed but rather improved. One way of improving the instrument for innovation measurement in tourism or similar services would be to follow the suggested recommendations in this thesis.