The Age of Innovation

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ISBN-13: 978-0273638759
ISBN-10: 0273638750
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap


The idea of writing this book started about four years ago. It was at the start of my sabbatical leave that my Dean asked me what my plans were. I told him that I planned to write a book about how management could profit from the nonlinearities of the innovation process. At that time I had already been working on this topic for five years and had the idea that my approach was well developed.

I started my sabbatical in the Institute Solvay in Brussels, where Ilya Prigogine headed a large group of scientists, ranging from mathematicians, physicists and biologists to economists, studying the principles of self-organization in their various fields. This stay changed my plans. The group on economics I joined was headed by Michelle Sanglier who used computer modelling to study the behaviour of economic systems. It was in this group that I made computer models of the product development process. During my three-month stay I succeeded in modelling this process, and I elaborated this approach during the rest of my sabbatical. A too short stay at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico also helped me to formulate my ideas about the importance of non-linear behaviour of the innovation process more precisely.

From that time it still took another three years before I started to write. During this period I adjusted my thinking to be applicable to real management problems. This was the biggest challenge and even more rewarding than the development of the modelling principles during my sabbatical. Due to the vision of a number of managers at companies such as Unilever, Philips, British Steel and Agritech 2007, I was able to apply my approach to a large number of management issues, such as scenario planning, developing new business models in dynamic markets, speeding up the product development process, portfolio management and planning product architectures. However, as important as these projects were, it was my discussions with consultants at various consulting firms who convinced me that I was on the right track and encouraged me to continue.

I realized that after the sabbatical I had a solution and now I had to find the right problem relating to this. I also realized that previously I had fallen into the same trap as many companies, of being too technology driven. Now I can state with more conviction to my students that you have to develop new methodologies and products closely with the users. I can also say to my colleagues with more conviction that developing applications is even more rewarding than just developing new theoretical concepts. I even obtained empirical evidence for one of my earlier statements that developing applications has to go hand in hand with the development of theoretical concepts and to develop those beyond the initial state.

Ultimately eighteen months ago I started writing this book. Again, it was the enthusiasm of many managers of companies I worked with, consultants and last but not least the publishers that encouraged me to continue and gave me the energy to finish the book. In this respect, I want to mention Cees Groenewegen and Marc Vloemans, who not only read the manuscript carefully and gave comments on the text, but also suggested a number of case studies that clarified the points I wanted to make.

When I started my studies ten years ago, to understand better the mechanisms behind the non-linear behaviour of the innovation process, almost nobody understood why I had chosen this topic. I had the impression that most of my colleagues found it too far removed from reality. I can understand that because the main management paradigm at that time was directed at forecasting and precise planning. A number of them also had problems with the idea that I wanted to simulate the innovation process by computer modelling. They found my approach too complicated and too hard to validate and calibrate such models to such an extent that they could be used for exact forecasting and precise planning. During a large part of my study I received greater understanding from the outside world, visionary managers and consultants than from inside academia. The publication of books such as Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline and Arie de Geus's The Living Company did not change that. It was only after the publication of the book by Shapiro and Varian, Information Rules, that the tide changed. This book has made evident to mainstream economists that studying the non-linear behaviour of economic systems is respectful. Everybody now discusses the new economy and it has become a fashionable topic.

I suppose that, after all, the timing of the book is now perfect. The growth of the Internet has convinced everyone that thinking along the old economic paradigms is no longer tenable. Internet-time makes the non-linear behaviour of the economy a fact of life nobody can deny. It has made the old management paradigm obsolete. To develop new management practices, new approaches to analyze the business situation and to translate this into possible actions are needed. This is exactly what I want to achieve with this book. Not only to make management students, managers and consultants aware of the peculiarities of the non-linear behaviour of the innovation process, but also to support them in analyzing this behaviour, understanding the mechanisms behind it and in this way becoming more successful innovators.

It is evident that the content of this book is my responsibility. Readers have to blame me when they think differently or find all kinds of imperfections in the text. However, writing the book was not possible without the input of many who encouraged and helped me during the long course of developing concepts and the methodologies, and in writing the book. Especially I want to thank the following: Cees van Mourik, Grada Degenaars, Cees Groeneveld, Marc Vloemans and the numerous students who followed my courses on Management of Technology and Innovation and gave comments on the texts of many versions of the manuscript that preceded this book.

Felix Janszen Rotterdam January 2000

From the Back Cover

In a changeable global marketplace, the key competitive advantage of the future will be the ability to innovate.

Many companies are confronted with continuous changes in the environment with respect to markets, competition, technologies, regulation and social values. These changes influence their competitive position and make innovation one of the most important activities to sustain and develop market position.

The Age of Innovation shows how knowledge about the dynamics of the innovation process can lead to competitive advantage and how it will create value for your company, including its shareholders, customers and employees.

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1.3 pounds
  • Hardcover : 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0273638750
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0273638759
  • Publisher : Financial Times Prentice Hall (June 12, 2000)
  • Product Dimensions : 6.38 x 0.87 x 9.44 inches
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    5.0 out of 5 stars 1 rating