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It has long been thought that standardisation kills innovation and creativity. But Ivan Navarro González, MSc Management of Innovation student at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), points out in his recent research paper that the opposite can be true. It is Ivan’s well-researched and convincing argument for standardisation in innovation that made him win the European young researcher Standards + Innovation award.

Ivan’s research paper Linking constraints in idea generation theory with standardisation in product and service innovation focuses on company standardisation and, from a company’s point of view, external standardisation. His paper shows how standardisation can enhance innovation with a focus on the creativity part of the innovation process. Ivan wrote this paper as part of the course Innovation and Standardisation management offered by Henk de Vries, professor of Standardisation Management.

A solid contribution to standardisation and innovation

Addressing the typical fuzzy front end of the innovation process, Ivan’s paper argues that fuzziness hinders rather than helps the generation of ideas. His research finds that standards provide structure, and his paper makes use of the theory of constraints (Acar et al., 2018) to argue that standards may form three categories of constraints, and that each of these may impact innovation via three routes: motivational, cognitive and social.

Supporting science and research organisations

Not only does Ivan explain in his research paper how standardisation contributes to innovation, but he also turns the existing argument against standardisation on its head. Many people in the research and innovation community find it hard to believe that standards can benefit innovation, because standards mean constraints, which hinder creativity. Although Ivan understands this line of thinking, he convincingly shows how standards may enhance creativity and how standardisation can increase idea generation. In that way, more space is created for innovation.

Ivan’s paper has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Standardisation. It can be read here.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top-ranked business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Erika Harriford-McLaren, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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