The innovation process is a topic that has been widely explored (Le Loarne & Blanco, 2012; Tidd, Bessant & Pavit). However, research on the identity of the individuals or groups of individuals who take part in the innovation process remains underdeveloped.
Indeed, research is often based on experimental studies with students or individuals who are not in the real situation of taking part in any firms’ innovation processes (Perry Smith, 2006). Furthermore, other results are mostly based on case studies taken from large groups (Amabile, 1988; Le Loarne, 2006), without considering SMEs or start-ups, which mostly contribute to economic life, especially in European countries.
Such gaps led us to opening a research debate on the social and organisational characteristics of innovators in firms, particularly in small and medium firms.
The first research contributions to this debate revealed that a firm is all the more innovative if it welcomes and invites different actors from different social groups and education systems (Amabile, 2005). Such results are consistent with calls from politicians for better diversity in firms for better economic growth (World Economic Forum, 2012).
The term “diversity” implies different forms: diversity in terms of profession, national origin, age and also genre. Therefore, we propose to explore the role of gender within the innovation processes of firms and, moreover, of SMEs.
The debate on gender role within organisations is not brand new and the number of journals specialised in such issues illustrate this point. However, the question of gender role within the innovation process has been restricted to the topic of female entrepreneurship (De Bruin et al., 2006; Hughes et al., 2012). The objectives are to explain the low rate of female entrepreneurs, and to shed light on the differences across genders in the way males and females respectively manage their businesses (Du Rietz & Henrekson, 2000). We propose, through this special issue, to extend this debate to the innovation processes of firms that remain underexplored (Owen, 1994).
More precisely, given the high impact innovation has on the performance of firms, this issue aims at questioning the specific role of females (and males) within the innovation process and the creative process. Legendary figures in innovation and entrepreneurship are mostly males. Does this mean that female innovate less? Do females also take less part – or are they given less part – in the innovation process within any company? If not, how do they proceed? Does their creativity differ from that of males? Would there be any “glass ceiling” for innovative ideas produced by females? Furthermore, since we know that females tend to adopt a more democratic decision making process in firms (Carter et al., 1997; Cliff, 1998), can we assume that females also develop a more democratic innovation process?
In such a context, this issue welcomes any research related to gender in big or small companies within any innovation process. However, we mostly welcome empirical contributions. Following the call from Ahl (2006; 2012) and Bruton et al. (forthcoming), special interest will be given to contributions that deal with a real comparison across genders.
Ahl J. (2006), “Why research on Female Entrepreneurs needs new direction” Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, Vol. 30(5), p. 595-621
Ahl J., S. Marlow (2012), “Exploring the dynamics of gender, feminism and entrepreneurship: Advancing debate to escape a dead end?”, Organization, Vol. 19(5), p. 534 - 562
Amabile T.M. (1988), “From individual creativity to organizational innovation” in Gronhaug et al., Innovation: A cross-disciplinary perspective”, Norwegian University Press, p. 139-166
Amabile T.M. (2005), “Affect and creativity at work”, Administrative Science Quaterly, 50(3), p. 367-403
Bruton et al. (forthcoming), “Entrepreneurship through a qualitative lens”, Journal of Business Venturing
Carter N.M., K.R. Allen (1997), “Size determinants of women-owned businesses: choice of barriers to resources?”, Entrepreneurship & Regional Development: An international journal, Vol. 9(3)
Cliff J.E. (1998), “Does one size fit all? Exploring the relationship between attitudes towards growth, gender and business size”, Journal of Business Venturing, 13(6), p. 523-542
De Bruin et al. (2006), “Advancing a Framework for Coherent Research on Women’s Entrepreneurship”, Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, Vol 31(3), p. 323-339.
Du Rietz A., M. Henrekson (2000), “Testing the Female Underperformance Hypothesis”, Small Business Economics, 14(1), p. 1-10
Hughes K. (2012), “Extending Women’s Entrepreneurship in New Directions”, Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, Vol 36(3), p. 429-442.
Le Loarne S., S. Blanco (2012), “ Manager l’innovation – 2 ème édition ”, Ed. Pearson, Paris.
Le Loarne S. (2006), “ De l’idée d’offre à l’innovation produit au sein d’un groupe multidivisionnel ”, Revue Française de Gestion, N°161, n°2
Owen J. (1994), “Women in Science: Token Women or Gender Equality? ”, R&D Management, Vol 24(1), p. 102-103
Perry Smith J.E. (2006), “Social yet creative: The role of social relationships in facilitating individual creativity”, Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 49(1), p. 85-101
Tidd, J., J. Bessant (2012), “Managing Innovation”, Pearson Education
World Economic Forum (2012), Global report, http://www.weforum.org/issues/global-competitiveness.
Suitable topics include but are not limited to:
- Gender within the creative process
- Social networks, gender and creativity
- Decision making processes within SMEs: differences across gender
- Intrapreneurship and gender
- Gender and strategies of growth
- Gender and innovative business opportunity recognition
- Gender and financing innovative projects
- Gender and organisational bricolage
- Gender and the decision making process within a company
Full paper submission: 15 October, 2013