Purpose – The purpose of this study is to employ the concepts of the general management of innovation to help explain the extraordinary inventiveness of the Shaker religious community. Design/methodology/approach – Utilizing historical accounts of Shaker philosophy and practice, the paper examines Shaker innovativeness through the lens of the general management of innovation in order to develop a historical interpretation of innovation within the Shaker community. Findings – It was demonstrated that Shaker society possessed a large number of the organizational characteristics, management practices, and values, which have subsequently been found to be positively related to innovative behaviors in modern institutions. Research limitations/implications – Future research should examine in even greater depth specific values, structure, and practices of Shaker communities as well as focusing on key concepts in other fields such as product, operations, or R&D management to yield additional insights into the management of innovation within organizations. Practical implications – The paper discusses several managerial actions derived from an examination of Shaker practices related to the general management of innovation that are relevant for contemporary organizations. Originality/value – This study uses the extant history of Shaker society to examine, illustrate, and help explain contemporary general management of innovation. This exposition should help inform organizations interested in improving their efforts at spurring successful innovation.
Journal of Management History – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 6, 2012
Keywords: General management of innovation; Shaker society; Management history; Total quality management; Learning organizations; Knowledge creation; Innovation; Creative thinking; Modern history