Design Innovation Management









A Multilevel Approach to Research ‘Obscure’ Innovation Processes and Practices 

Emmanouil Chatzakis, Neil Smith, Erik Bohemia 

Teesside University, Northumbria University, Loughborough University

Keywords: activity theory, new product development, analytical methods, organisational agility


The paper’s aim is to discuss a need for a multilevel research approach to investigate innovation practices in organisations. We argue that this approach overcomes some of the limitations of the single level research methods commonly used investigating innovation performance and success. Specifically, the multilevel research approach allows researchers and subsequently organisations to take into consideration ‘obscured’ practices within innovation processes. First, we put forward a motion that innovation processes permeate the formalised organisational structures and practices. Then, we outline a case where many of the practices associated with innovation are ‘obscured’. This is followed with discussion on how the commonly used single level research methods fail to take into consideration these obscured factors. We then introduce Activity Theory and propose a multilevel framework which aims to overcome the shortfalls of the previous analytical methods. 

This paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.

download the paper (PDF)

Cite this paper: Chatzakis, E., Smith, N., Bohemiac, E. (2016). A Multilevel Approach to Research ‘Obscure’ Innovation Processes and Practices. Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Brighton, UK, 27–30 June 2016.

This paper will be presented at DRS2016, find it in the conference programme

Take part in the discussion: Your comments