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Top managers' communication efforts as response to tensions in product innovation: an attention-based view

Wen Pan Fagerlin (Industrial Economics, Blekinge Institute of Technology , Karlskrona, Sweden) ( Hitotsubashi University , Tokyo, Japan)
Yueqi Wang ( School of Economics and Management , Dalian University of Technology , Dalian, China)

Baltic Journal of Management

ISSN: 1746-5265

Article publication date: 7 September 2021

Issue publication date: 31 December 2020

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to map different kinds of tensions in product innovation and investigate how top managers use communication to shape subordinates' attention and thereby respond to these tensions.

Design/methodology/approach

This study adopted an embedded case study of four innovation centers within a Nordic multinational firm.

Findings

This study identifies three kinds of tensions that reside in product innovation, namely dilemma, paradox and trade-off. Further, this study reveals how joint attention (among top managers and subordinates) as a response to tensions can be achieved through different aggregates of top managers' communication efforts.

Originality/value

In opening the black box of tensions in product innovation and identifying multiple tensions, this study contributes to advancing the understanding of the attention-based view. Different from previous studies that simply consider communication as channels for information processing, the findings indicate that the contents and practices of communication can help top managers to shape subordinates' attention and thereby respond to tensions. This study also extends the research focus of attention from top managers to the whole organization, by revealing the importance of building a joint pattern of attention among top managers and subordinates.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

These two authors contributed equally. This study was sponsored by National Natural Science Foundation of China [Grant number 71802038].

Citation

Pan Fagerlin, W. and Wang, Y. (2021), "Top managers' communication efforts as response to tensions in product innovation: an attention-based view", Baltic Journal of Management, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 21-45. https://doi.org/10.1108/BJM-01-2020-0024

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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