The Impact of Controversy in Innovation Essay

Published: 2020-01-18 12:20:25
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Category: Innovation

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Controversy does affect innovation and it is commonly observed in an organizational context. Controversy is defined as a disagreement between parties, usually characterized by open debates and arguments. And in an organizational setting, controversy is seen to impact innovation both in a negative and a positive manner.

Controversy is usually regarded as something deterrent to the advancement or the achievement of goals of a certain organization. The possibility of creating controversy is the main reason why many leaders are not bold enough to challenge the long-standing norms followed by his group and implement innovations in its place. By nature, people are threatened by changes. And so to counter the unforeseen effects that an innovation is going to trigger, people dispute it aggressively. They create controversy so that the innovation wont take place (Lipset & Smelser, 1961).

But on the positive side, controversy can make a group, including its leader, more resilient and more capable risk-takers. If controversy is taken as an obstacle that can be withstood, then a better organization is formed in the process. Controversy provides the leader and the members a good venue to air out and discuss different views and opinions, with the intention of arriving at a certain solution beneficial to all parties. Controversy can steer a group into action and interaction, thus allowing the leader to understand the sentiments of his members in a much deeper way. In the long run, the leader will become better equipped and a lot more able to direct his group towards success (Guoguan & Tjosvold, 2002).

Constructive controversy is what leaders need to introduce to his group but not all are spirited enough to take that challenge. The leaders who are willing to implement innovation in his organization despite the fact that doing so would reduce him into a radical or a rebel even, are probably the more qualified ones than those who do not even want to try (Tjosvold & Yu, 2001). While controversy can cause turmoil within a group, it can also inspire a number of things. Innovations may cause controversy, but it is also very possible for a controversy to open the doors for new innovations.

Guoguan, C. & Tjosvold, D. (2002). Cooperative Goals and Constructive Controversy for Promoting Innovation in Student Groups. Journal of Education for Business, 78(1), 46-50.
Lipset, M. S. & Smelser N. (1961). Change and Controversy in Recent American

Sociology. The British Journal of Sociology, 12(1), 41-51.

Tjosvold D., & Yu Z. (2001). Constructive Controversy and Risk-Taking for Team Innovation. AOM Conflict Management Division, 12(7), 11-22.

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