An innovative idea launched in the wrong place at the wrong time may not deliver the outcomes hoped for. Based on 55 empirical studies, Bowen, Rostami and Steel (2010) suggest ‘timing is everything’ if innovation is to enhance organisational performance, but there is also a need to understand contextual factors. The paper presents a theoretical model representing the interaction of idea, place, resources and temporal factors that draws on the Ancient Greek notion of Kairos linking events in time and timely action. Longitudinal studies of four intermediary organisations intended to enhance SME innovation capabilities are compared at different stages in their evolution. The cases highlight the context-sensitive nature of innovation: an idea that has been successfully implemented in one place at one time may not be successful at another place or another time.
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