Research

Associate Professor Andrew Hargadon

Associate Professor Andrew Hargadon’s book How Breakthroughs Happen: The Surprising Truth about How Companies Innovate (Harvard Business School Press, 2003) is one of 12 books from a field of more than 90 candidates that have been selected for the first global book club focused on innovation. A group of senior innovation leaders chose the books based on their power to stimulate thought and practical application. The book club is sponsored by the Innovation Network, a global community of innovation practitioners that helps individuals and organizations develop a greater competency through conferences, events and training programs. How Breakthroughs Happen was selected for its emphasis on networking and borrowing from existing technology in other arenas. In it, Hargadon outlines “technology brokering,” and shows that it has been the force behind numerous celebrated inventions. He takes readers behind the scenes—from Edison’s Menlo Park lab to IDEO—to illustrate strategies for sourcing, nurturing and exploiting ideas in new ways for new markets. Innovation Watch.com’s David Forrest calls Hargadon’s book, “Intriguing, practical and counterintuitive.” It’s the counter intuitiveness that makes it such an important read: building on existing technology that has already been proven in a different arena, dramatically reduces the risk for innovators.

In April Hargadon traveled to London, England, to work with Professor Jennifer Whyte of Imperial College’s Tanaka Business School on a first-hand look at the emergence of new construction technologies, such as structural (load-bearing) glass. Hargadon and Whyte are interested in studying the role of experts in leading technological change, particularly as they serve as trusted intermediaries who vet and vouch for safe, new technologies. While in Europe, Hargadon also presented his paper, “The Networks of Innovation,” at the Copenhagen Business School.

Hargadon has been named a 2005–2006 Chancellor’s Fellow, a prestigious campus honor designed to encourage young UC Davis faculty members who show great promise in their academic careers. As one of only five fellows named this year, Hargadon received $25,000, which he plans to use to develop a research tool for understanding teaching and developing the role of social networks in individual innovation and entrepreneurship. The  director of technology management programs at the Graduate School of Management, Hargadon is an expert in managing innovation, organizational knowledge flow and social factors in design technology. He came to UC Davis as an assistant professor in 2001 and became associate professor in 2003. In 2004 he started the Business Development Program to train campus researchers in entrepreneurship and innovation. Since Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef launched the fellows program in 2000, 37 fellows have been named, including the GSM’s Professor Kimberly Elsbach (2004) and Professor Prasad Naik (2005).

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