Innovating and the dynamics of temporal scaffolding

Anup Karath Nair

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Despite the growing acknowledgement of temporal complexities associated with the process perspective on innovation, insights into how timing and temporal experiences shape innovating; remains nascent and under researched. Why might this be the case and how can we gain better insights into the temporal dynamics which unfold while innovating? In this paper, I address this puzzle by tracing the theoretical origins of current limitations in literature to the distinction between the 'substantialist' and 'processual' ontologies in process research. Specifically, I demonstrate two major implications of adopting the 'substantialist' perspective in process research. These are first, the false opposition between persistence and change resulting in theories such as the 'punctuated equilibrium model'; and second, the nature of 'substantialist' and 'processual' time. These insights are then woven into a conceptual framework which informs the process research methodology used to investigate, two new product development projects at a Scottish high value manufacturing firm. Analysis of the data illuminates the unfolding of three distinct yet intertwined processes which I’ve called the process of setting temporal boundaries, the process of temporal prioritizing and the process of temporal sequencing. Taken together, these processes constitute a dynamic process, I call the 'Dynamics of temporal scaffolding'. I conclude by outlining the theoretical and practical implications of the 'dynamics of temporal scaffolding' for innovation research and practice. Such an approach, I believe, would allow us to integrate the temporal experience of organising while innovating with process theories in innovation research.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages45
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2015
Event31st EGOS Colloquium - ALBA Graduate Business School at The American College of Greece, Athens, Greece
Duration: 2 Jul 20154 Jul 2015


Conference31st EGOS Colloquium
Abbreviated titleEGOS 2015
Internet address


  • innovation
  • process research
  • temporality


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