Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine knowledge creation and technological diversity management by medical device manufacturers, to identify strategic directions for innovation in the medical device field. Design/methodology/approach – This paper uses two types of data to assess the importance of multiple technologies and technological diversity in product development: patent applications and approvals of medical devices for sale and use in medical treatment. Additional perspective is provided by the results of a survey of management styles. Findings – While knowledge‐creating innovation frequently combines multiple technologies, the scope of technological diversity, the variety of types of technology combined may be wider in low‐risk than in high‐risk innovation. Research limitations/implications – The sample size is too small to justify claims of statistical significance. This research should be extended to incorporate more cases and explore the theme in greater depth. Practical implications – Companies that choose a high‐risk strategy are likely to be more focused on related multiple technologies with which their researchers are already familiar. Conversely, companies that choose a low‐risk strategy may have more room to experiment since, if something goes wrong, the risk to patient health is lower. Innovative medical device enterprise to seek high‐risk device development is proposed to manage optimal diversity for it. Originality/value – This paper analyses two case studies relevant to growing interest in technological diversity and knowledge management in knowledge‐driven innovation in the medical device industry in Japan.
Journal of Strategy and Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 26, 2012
Keywords: Japan; Manufacturing industries; Medical appliances; Product development; Knowledge management; Technological diversity; Medical device enterprise
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