Playing to Win: The Surprising Power of Play in Innovation

29 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2015

See all articles by Suzanne Piotrowski

Suzanne Piotrowski

Rochester Institute of Technology; Case Western Reserve University

Kalle J. Lyytinen

Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management

Richard J. Boland

Case Western Reserve University - Department of Information Systems

James Gaskin

Brigham Young University - Marriott School; Case Western Reserve University - Department of Information Systems

Date Written: September 10, 2015

Abstract

Organizational teams are the primary mechanism by which ideas are birthed and recombined into innovations for maintaining or achieving competitive advantage. We know that resources of people, time and funding impact team effectiveness in innovating. We also know that factors such as individual traits of talent, expertise, and collaboration skills also matter greatly. What is less known, and less studied, is the role of team characteristics, in particular, team play and team playfulness on innovation results. Our two-part study examined 145 teams and discovered that team playfulness is present on all successful innovation teams and its forms emerge as divergence and deep engagement. These are two paradoxical forms of play both of which positively impact team innovation success. Findings support two emerging theories of play in organizations, and run counter to prevailing notions that plat serves no role in the serious and competitive work of organizations.

Keywords: Innovation; teams; innovation teams; engagement; play; playfulness; serious play

Suggested Citation

Piotrowski, Suzanne and Lyytinen, Kalle J. and Boland, Richard J. and Gaskin, James, Playing to Win: The Surprising Power of Play in Innovation (September 10, 2015). 5th International Conference on Engaged Management Scholarship: Baltimore, Maryland, September 10-13, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2676363 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2676363

Suzanne Piotrowski (Contact Author)

Rochester Institute of Technology ( email )

Rochester, NY
United States
585-613-6015 (Phone)

Case Western Reserve University ( email )

10900 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44106
United States

Kalle J. Lyytinen

Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management ( email )

10900 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44106-7235
United States

Richard J. Boland

Case Western Reserve University - Department of Information Systems ( email )

United States

James Gaskin

Brigham Young University - Marriott School ( email )

United States

Case Western Reserve University - Department of Information Systems ( email )

United States

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