The notion that more hierarchically structured organizations diminish innovation is widely accepted by the business community and many scholars. However, Kelly E See, PhD, assistant professor of Management, found that in certain stages of the innovation process, it’s more beneficial to have a vertical hierarchical structure rather than a flatter structure.
In her article, The Influence of Hierarchy on Idea Generation and Selection in the Innovation Process, recently published in Organization Science, See and colleague Dongil Keum at Columbia University focused on how hierarchy affects two phases of the innovation process:
- The idea generation phase
- The idea selection phase
Based on results from a field study of a multinational fashion retailer and a lab experiment, See and Keum found that hierarchy is detrimental to the idea generation phase of innovation, yet it’s beneficial during the selection or screening phase of innovation. Read more