General management of innovation: lessons from the Shaker community

John F. Preble, Richard C. Hoffman
  • Journal of Management History, January 2012, Emerald
  • DOI: 10.1108/17511341211188637

Innovation Lessons for Management from the Shakers

What is it about?

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. 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. We demonstrate 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. Implications for future research and for managers are discussed.

Why is it important?

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.

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