Friday, March 22, 2013

Hyppänen: Decision makers’ use of intuition at the front end of innovation

Olli Hyppänen is defending his thesis "Decision Makers’ Use of Intuition at the Front End of Innovation" on Friday, 22nd of March at Aalto University School of Science. Juha Laurila from University of Turku is serving as the opponent and Karlos Artto as the custos.

Empirical research on human knowing and experience has clearly shown that expertise is based on skills and knowledge that are difficult to represent explicitly in linguistic form. Dijksterhuis et al. have recently shown that intuitive decision making gives systematically better results than reliance on explicit or rational thinking in solving complex problems (see "Modeling communities of experts" for more details).

In his thesis, Hyppänen states that the findings in managerial decision making research suggest that decision makers most often use intuition in uncertain situations. Moreover, innovation front end is a good example of an environment with high uncertainty. An essential motivation for Hyppänen's research is the finding that the use of intuition in decision making has not been extensively researched at the innovation front end context. According to the defendant, existing research in innovation front end decision making has concentrated on building traditional normative models to deal with uncertainty.

The first part of empirical data of the thesis research consists of 19 interviews in 4 ICT companies. The second part of data consists of the results from 86 questionnaires from innovation decision makers. The results of the initial phase resulted in list of categories and related properties relevant in the development of the grounded theory framework for innovation front end decision making. Decision making was the main focus of the data analysis, non-rational elements in decision making emerging as a core category. this category was named as intuition. In Hyppönen's thesis, the main research questions are the following.

  1. How does intuition reveal itself in innovation front end decision making?
  2. What approaches do decision makers have when using intuition at the innovation front end?
  3. How do experienced decision makers differ from inexperienced decision makers in their use of intuition?

The opponent explored, for instance, methodological challenged related to the thesis.

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