The Governance of Innovation: The Case of Rolls-Royce plc
This chapter highlights the regulatory power of a ‘soft’ mechanism, namely communities of expertise. It draws on an in-depth case study of the evolution of governance at Rolls-Royce. The study demonstrates how a strong and stable community of engineers, with extensive rights in resource allocation decision-making, has been central in sustaining growth, accumulation of experience and technical excellence, throughout the long history of the firm, a history marked by frequent changes in ownership structures and board composition. In other words, an informally governed horizontal organization, oriented to technical objectives and somehow decoupled from the financial objectives and structure of the firm, turned out to be compatible, if not complementary, with a variety of proprietary arrangements.
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