NUI Galway Lecturer Wins MIT Innovation Award for Research on Ideas

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Dr Eoin Whelan, Business Information Systems, School of Business, Public Policy and Law, NUI Galway.
Dr Eoin Whelan, Business Information Systems, School of Business, Public Policy and Law, NUI Galway.

Research identified the key distinction between ‘idea scouts’ who introduce new ideas and ‘idea connectors’ who help make them a reality.

NUI Galway Lecturer in Business Information Systems Dr Eoin Whelan is the winner of the prestigious 2013 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize awarded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan Technology Review for the ‘most outstanding’ article published on Enterprise Social Media.

The article titled ‘Creating Employee Networks That Deliver Open Innovation’ is authored by Dr Eoin Whelan, Salvatore Parise, Jasper de Valk and Rick Aalbers. They examine how companies such as Procter & Gamble, Cisco Systems, Genzyme, General Electric and Intel are often acknowledged innovation leaders. The authors argue that others have failed to match them because the mix of external and internal ideas for innovation doesn’t happen as efficiently.

The authors identified, and mapped, the mix of real-life and virtual connections that go into bringing an idea to fruition. They identified ‘idea scouts’ who, often sourcing information on the web, combine that with their company’s expertise to come up with an idea. The authors also identified, however, ‘idea connectors’ who have the interpersonal skills and informal contacts to get the buy-in to make those ideas a reality. Interestingly ‘idea connectors’ aren’t necessarily employed as such, or can come from any level, senior or junior, in the organisation.

Dr Eoin Whelan said, ‘we’re very honoured to receive this prestigious award, and hope that it will focus further attention on our research in social media in enterprise. The research is, we feel, of particular benefit to senior managers and R&D leaders to identify, encourage and reward the idea scouts and connectors for their work in bringing ideas to life.” 

A member of the award winning NUI Galway Cairnes School of Business, Public Policy and Law, Dr Whelan, from Portlaoise, Co. Laois, lectures in Business Information Systems, and his research focuses on how technologies such as social media and big data both enable and constrain organisational innovation and productivity.

The NUI Galway Business Information Systems degree course in the Cairnes School is one of only eight European undergraduate programmes to receive five-year EPAS (European Foundation for Management Development) accreditation.

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Keywords: Press

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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