Special Issue "Innovation, NPD and Design Thinking - Managing the Fuzzy Front End"

A special issue of Administrative Sciences (ISSN 2076-3387).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2020) | Viewed by 291

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Peter Robbins
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Member of Irish Institute of Digital Business (dotLAB), Economics, Finance & Entrepreneurship Group, DCU Business School, Dublin City University, Dublin 9, Ireland
Interests: new product; development; design thinking; art thinking; front end of innovation; innovation
Prof. Dr. Piero Formica
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Senior Research Fellow, Innovation Value Institute, Maynooth University, Maynooth, Co Kildare, Ireland
2. Founder, International Entrepreneurship Academy Network
3. Adjunct Professor of Knowledge Economics, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Faculty of Entrepreneurship, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran4. Guest Professor, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
Interests: economics; innovation; entrepreneurship
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Innovation has become the Holy Grail (Alexander and van Knippenberg, 2014) or even the raison d’etre (Colombo et al, 2017) for many organizations. New ideas constitute vital creative sparks that ultimately lead to innovations such as new products, new services, new processes, new experiences, new business models and create new commercial growth opportunities to sustain the business (van den Ende et al, 2014).

The fuzzy front end, of innovation or New Product Development (NPD) is defined as “the period between when an opportunity is first considered and when an idea is judged ready for development.” (Kim and Wilemon, 2002, p. 270). Researchers have identified the front end (FEI) as the most important phase of the innovation process, but paradoxically, it is the the phase that is least studied. Managing the FEI is challenging and confusing because the data on which decisions are normally based are either unclear or absent and this is particularly so when organizations seek radical innovations (RI’s). R&D teams seeking to generate highly-novel, original ideas in the FEI face high levels of uncertainty in both market and technology.  While existing research in the fields of management and design suggest tools that can assist managers and teams to navigate this unique challenge, this is still a critical issue.

Managing Radical innovation (RI), especially, in large mature companies requires addressing both high levels of risk and uncertainty. The literature suggests that firms should build special capabilities to manage RI initiatives (O’Connor and de Martino, 2006; O’Connor and Rice 2013: Bagno et al 2017; Salerno et al 2015). Such special capabilities or alternative approaches are needed because in early stage R&D projects much of the information required to make decisions  is either uncertain or entirely absent (Aagaard and Gertsen, 2011: De Oliveira et al, 2018) and outcomes are therefore unpredictable and volatile (Robbins and O’Gorman, 2015): the decisions to be made are critical and mistakes at this juncture will have consequences (Haase and Laursen, 2018).

This special issue will examine guiding philosophies, methods and factors to help managers to navigate the choppy waters of the FEI and should include, inter alia, approaches like:

Possible themes

-        Design Thinking

-        Business Model Innovation

-        Open Innovation and/or Open Creativity

-        Organisational Creativity

-        Individual and Team Creativity

-        Leadership

-        Cognitive Approaches such as Mindset and Goal Orientation

-        The role of Big Data and AI in FEI

-        Art Thinking

-        Futures, Foresight and Trends research

-        Collaboration with Academia

-        Radical Innovation


Aagaard, A. & Gertsen, F. 2011, "Supporting Radical Front End Innovation: Perceived Key Factors of Pharmaceutical Innovation", Creativity & Innovation Management, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 330-346.

Alexander, L. & van Knippenberg, D. 2014, "Teams in Pursuit of Radical Innovation: a Goal Orientation Perspective", Academy of Management Review, vol. 39, no. 4, pp. 423-438.

Artz, K.W., Norman, P.M., Hatfield, D.E. & Cardinal, L.B. 2010, "A Longitudinal Study of the Impact of R&D, Patents, and Product Innovation on Firm Performance", Journal of Product Innovation Management, vol. 27, no. 5, pp. 725-740.

Bagno, R.B., Salerno, M.S. & da Silva, D.O. 2017, "Models with graphical representation for innovation management: a literature review", R&D Management, vol. 47, no. 4, pp. 637-653.

Colombo, M.G., von Krogh, G., Rossi-Lamastra, C. & Stephan, P.E. 2017, "Organizing for Radical Innovation: Exploring Novel Insights", Journal of Product Innovation Management, vol. 34, no. 4, pp. 394-405

de Oliveira, P. & da Silva, J.F. 2018, "The impact of alliances and internal R&D on the firm's innovation and financial performance", Brazilian Business Review (English Edition), vol. 15, no. 6, pp. 533-550.

Formica, Piero and Curley, Martin (Editors) Exploring the Culture of Open Innovation: Towards an Altruistic Model of EconomyEmerald Publishing Group, 2018

 Haase, L.M. & Laursen, L.N. 2018, "Reasoning in the Fuzzy Front End of Innovation: Framing the Product Dna", International Journal of Innovation Management, vol. 22, no. 5, pp. N.PAG-N.PAG.

Kim, J. & Wilemon, D. 2007, "The Learning Organization as Facilitator of Complex NPD Projects", Creativity & Innovation Management, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 176-191.

O'Connor, G.C. & DeMartino, R. 2006, "Organizing for Radical Innovation: An Exploratory Study of the Structural Aspects of RI Management Systems in Large Established Firms", Journal of Product Innovation Management, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 475-497.

O'Connor, G.C. & Rice, M.P. 2013, "A Comprehensive Model of Uncertainty Associated with Radical Innovation", Journal of Product Innovation Management, vol. 30, pp. 2-18.

Robbins, P. & O'Gorman, C. 2015, "Innovating the innovation process: an organisational experiment in global pharma pursuing radical innovation", R&D Management, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 76-93.

Salerno, M.S., Gomes, L.A.d.V., Silva, D., Bagno, R.B. & Freitas, S.L.T.U. 2015, "Innovation processes: Which process for which project?", Technovation, vol. 35, pp. 59-70.

van den Ende, J., Frederiksen, L. & Prencipe, A. 2014, "The Front End of Innovation: Organizing Search for Ideas", Journal of Product Innovation Management, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 482-487.

Dr. Peter Robbins
Prof. Piero Formica
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Administrative Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Design Thinking
  • Front End of Innovation (FEI)
  • Innovation Teams
  • Radical Innovation
  • Innovation Value Chain
  • Creativity in Organisations
  • Learning Goal Orientation; Performance Goal Orientation 
  • Growth and Fixed Mindset
  • Open Innovation

Published Papers

There is no accepted submissions to this special issue at this moment.
Back to TopTop