Debating innovation and entrepreneurship

Next week two teams of experts will debate how innovation and entrepreneurship can be complementary drivers for New Zealand’s growth.

Margaret and Stephen

The idea behind the event came from Margaret Maile Petty, Head of Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Design, and Professor Stephen Cummings, Professor of Strategy at Victoria Business School, who started working together four years ago on a project that examines the relationship between design and business success.

Professor Cummings was interested in how design was emerging as the ‘next big thing’ in business, while Ms Petty was concerned with how design programmes could be better integrated into business.

A research grant enabled a preliminary study into the relationship between design and business success. “A study had been done by the United Kingdom Design Council showing that the share prices of companies that won design awards moved upwards, so we thought we’d replicate their study for New Zealand and Australian firms to help us justify further exploration,” Professor Cummings explains.

But what they found was a surprise—winning design awards had no impact on the share prices of these companies across a 10 year period.

They did the test again with companies listed in the United States and then with the same set of companies used in the original United Kingdom study—again finding no real link.

“Our conclusion was that it’s not so simple,” Ms Petty explains. “A winning design is not the key to success, but just one element that needs to be integrated with a range of other equally important components. A company’s design approach must go beyond just making nice things.”

Professor Cummings and Ms Petty’s study was published this year in The Handbook of Management and Creativity, a volume built around a similar theme.

“The book argues that too much time is spent drawing boundaries around things that really need to be connected to add value. Lean manufacturing, brand identity, innovation, design, entrepreneurship all need to all be integrated effectively,” says Professor Cummings. “Hyping up one aspect as the next big thing, as the management literature often does, is often detrimental.”

The importance of interconnection is likely to be key in the public debate on December 11 called What comes first: Innovation or Entrepreneurship?

The debate features Ms Petty, Professor Cummings, Wellington entrepreneur/innovators Melissa Clark Reynolds and Dave ten Have, as well as student innovator/entrepreneurs Adam Ben Dror and Chris Mather, whose company One Legged Crab emerged from Victoria University’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, now sponsored by BizDojo.

Free public debate details

What comes first: Innovation or entrepreneurship?

BizDojo, Project: Blank Canvas at BizDojo, 113 Tory Street, Te Aro
6pm Thursday 11 December

RSVP by phoning 04-463 6016 or email with ‘Innovation’ in the subject line.