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Exploring retail innovation management – Licentiate seminar 17 December


Karla Marie B. Paredes presents her licentiate thesis in Innovation Engineering the 17th of December at IKDC. Fotograf: Erik Andersson

– Innovation plays an important role in organization survival and longevity. This is especially true in retail – there is a growing acknowledgment of the role of innovation in retail practice, as maintaining the status quo might prove insufficient, especially for traditional retailers, to be able to address the enormous challenges they are facing. However, innovation management in the domain of retail trade is relatively poorly understood in academic research, and there are knowledge gaps regarding innovation management in retail that need to be addressed, says Karla Marie B. Paredes who now presents her licentiate thesis in Innovation Engineering at Lund University.

– With my research I would like to contribute to the understanding of retail innovation management, a relevant concern both in academia and industry. More specifically, I explore how the concept of innovation is perceived in Swedish retail organizations and how innovation practices are managed in these organizations. The thesis approaches innovation management at the level of the retail firm, and thus I Iook at perceptions and practices from the corporate management perspective.

The research tries to challenge retailers to reflect on the different aspects of retail innovation management

 – The retail sector is a major contributor in terms of GDP and employment in Sweden; also, retail, in social terms, impacts upon most people in their everyday lives. Although the thesis investigates innovation from the retail organization's perspective, how they manage their innovation activities would ultimately affect society in general, since we are the end consumers of the products and services that they offer. The research captures an on-going and highly relevant issue, and it also tries to challenge retailers to reflect on the different aspects of retail innovation management, and assess how their organizations currently look upon these issues. One of the insights presented in the thesis is that retailers can better utilize their intermediary position in the value chain, given their access to huge supplier networks as well as a wide array of end consumers. In general, a more active and strategic stance on innovation management is an important issue even for already powerful Swedish retailers, in order to adapt to massive changes brought about by digitalization and the current wave of disruption of the retail landscape.

Future research

– A next step in this research journey could potentially be to look further into how retailers deal with the difficult dual challenges of exploration versus exploitation, and long-term versus short-term concerns, particularly when it comes to the innovation issues I have looked at. Research shows that exploitation of existing assets and capabilities and providing for sufficient exploration are both essential in organizations; however, it is hard to strike a balance between these, and often there is a bias in favor of exploitation which has more certain short-term returns. One way of referring to how this balance could be achieved is through the concept of ambidexterity in organizations. It would thus be valuable to look further into this, particularly regarding retail organizations.

Karla Marie B. Paredes presents her licentiate thesis Exploring retail innovation management: perceptions and practices in Swedish retail organizations in Innovation engineering 
the 17th of December, 10.00-12.00
Room 304 at IKDC (Ingvar Kamprad Design Centre), Sölvegatan 26 in Lund.

Please contact Karla Marie at if you wish to read the thesis before the seminar.

Welcome to the seminar!