Triple Pundit: Are Big Companies More Innovative Than Startups?
In the green space, who is better positioned to make a difference -- businesses with money on their side, or those with the flexibility to adapt?
An interesting debate has been going on lately on the pages of the Harvard Business Review blog about the reality of corporate innovation. On one side of the ring you have Maxwell Wessel who argues that big companies are really bad at innovation because “large organizations are simply not designed to engage in the sort of discovery that is required for breakthrough innovation.”
On the other side, you have Scott Anthony who believes that large companies are now better positioned to innovate than ever before and thinks they will lead what he calls the “fourth era of innovation.”
So who’s right? It’s really hard to tell – this is not football where you have referees to make the decision, but more of an academic debate where both sides look for weight of evidence to support their argument. Looking at it from a green point of view, I was wondering which side the evidence in green space will support – the view believing in the ability of big companies to innovate successfully or the opposing one?
The green space is a great place to look at innovation, as it is one of the most important building blocks of sustainability. As Mark Vachon, VP, GE ecomagination, said once: “You don’t need to choose now between the economy and the environment. Innovation is the way you can have both.” Speaking of GE, its ecomagination program is certainly an interesting example for both the capabilities and limits of a big corporation when it comes to green innovation.