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The Organization and Architecture of Innovation
     

The Organization and Architecture of Innovation

by Thomas Allen
 

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Building on his pioneering work on the management of technology and innovation in his first book, Managing the Flow of Technology, Thomas J. Allen of MIT has joined with award-winning German architect Gunter Henn of HENN Architekten to produce a book that explores the combined use of two management tools to make the innovation process most effective: organizational

Overview

Building on his pioneering work on the management of technology and innovation in his first book, Managing the Flow of Technology, Thomas J. Allen of MIT has joined with award-winning German architect Gunter Henn of HENN Architekten to produce a book that explores the combined use of two management tools to make the innovation process most effective: organizational structure and physical space. They present research demonstrating how organizational structure and physical space each affect communication among people—in this case, engineers, scientists, and others in technical organizations—and they illustrate how organizations can transform both to increase the transfer of technical knowledge and maximize the “communication for inspiration” that is central to the innovation process. Allen and Henn illustrate their points with discussions of well-known buildings around the world, including Audi’s corporate headquarters, Steelcase’s corporate design center, and the Corning Glass Becker building, as well as several of Gunter Henn’s own projects, including the Skoda automotive factory in the Czech Republic and the Faculty for Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Munich. Allen and Henn then demonstrate the principles developed in their work by discussing in detail one example in which organizational structure and physical space were combined successfully to promote innovation with impressive results: HENN Architekten’s Project House for the BMW Group Research and Innovation Centre in Munich, cited by Business Week (April 24, 2006) in naming BMW one of the world’s most innovative companies.

Professor Thomas Allen is the originator of the Allen curve. In the late 1970s, Tom Allen undertook a project to determine how the distance between engineers’ offices coincided with the level of regular technical communication between them. The results of that research, now known as the Allen Curve, revealed a distinct correlation between distance and frequency of communication (i.e. the more distance there is between people — 50 meters or more to be exact — the less they will communicate). This principle has been incorporated into forward-thinking commercial design ever since, in, for example, The Decker Engineering Building in New York, the Steelcase Corporate Development Center in Michigan, and BMW’s Research Center in Germany.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781136356490
Publisher:
Taylor & Francis
Publication date:
07/11/2007
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
152
File size:
12 MB
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Meet the Author

Thomas J. Allen is Howard W. Johnson Professor of Management at the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He focuses his work in Sloan's program on Management of Technological Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MTIE). Specializing in organizational psychology and management, Tom Allen explores the relationship between organizational structure and behavior, the role of technological gatekeepers in technology transfer, and how a building's layout influences communication. He is also an expert on international technology transfer, reward systems for technical professionals, and how organizational structure affects project performance. He has been engaged in long-term research on project management in several industries. Prof. Allen's book Managing the Flow of Technology (MIT Press, 1984) is the pioneering work in how people in technical organizations communicate. His work is widely cited in both the academic and general literature. For example, Malcolm Gladwell (author of the bestselling The Tipping Point) discusses Prof. Allen's work in some detail in a December 2000 article published in The New Yorker.

Gunter Henn, a noted German architect, established his firm HENN Architekten in 1978. The firm is based in Munich and has an office in Berlin. Gunter Henn is a professor of architecture at the Technical University of Dresden and a visiting professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. His innovative building designs include, among many others, the BMW Research and Innovation Centre in Munich, Volkswagen's Automobile City in Wolfsburg, the celebrated Transparent Factory in Dresden, a novel auto assembly plant for Skoda in the Czech Republic, and theFaculty for Mechanical Engineering at the Technical University of Munich. He is the author, with D. Meyhöfer, of Architektur des Wissens / Architecture of Knowledge (Junius Verlag, 2003).

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