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LUISS Guido Carli

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The consequences of innovation in Formula 1

Research by LUISS Professor Alessandro Marino's team wins a Best Paper Award

Alessandro Marino LUISS Best Paper

The research of Professor Alessandro Marino, instructor of Economics and Business Management from the LUISS Department of Business and Management, won the Best-Paper-Award Innovation Management 2015, recognizing the best scientific articles on the role of innovation and technology in industry.

Written in collaboration with researchers Paolo Aversa from London’s Cass Business School, Luiz Mesquita from the W. P. Carey School of Business, and Jaideep Anand from the Fisher School of Business, the paper analyzes data related to a sector in which innovative technology plays a critical role: Formula 1. “During the final phase of my PhD at the Wharton School in Pennsylvania,” explains the LUISS researcher, “while looking for a research topic for my thesis, I thought that Formula 1 could be an interesting industry. Paolo Aversa was at Wharton as a visiting professor at the time, so we began the project together.”

The article relies on empirical and quantitative analysis as well as qualitative analysis of Formula 1 data. “While writing my doctoral thesis, I concentrated on empirical research and sought an area with longitudinal data and evolutional analysis. Formula 1 has quantitative data that spreads over a vast period of time and presents fierce competition between the various teams. It is a sort of business-world laboratory: it has competition, evolution and — from the point of view of innovation technology  there is nothing faster than Formula 1.”

From its first publication in the prestigious Organization Science, the paper received lots of attention from specialized press and popular media, from Forbes to ESPN. “We got lucky, as our research yielded counterintuitive results: in some environments, too much innovation is not an advantage. In extremely turbulent contexts, keeping the system that determines the product and the company in equilibrium is a priority. Thus, having a strong propensity for innovation can create difficulty in finding stability and the optimum decreases.”

These results demonstrate that business performance and knowledge must always adapt to their context. “In a more abstract sense, our goal is to understand the contingencies of innovation. The word innovation is used too generically, we have to look at the conditions that can favor it and look for a link between performance and innovation, also in the field of scientific research.”

In the future, Professor Marino’s research will be divided between simulation models of organizational dynamics, a theme on which he has recently published an article in Organization Science with Wharton’s Professor Daniel Levinthal, and new developments on the Formula 1 data set. “After my doctorate, I received several offers from top American schools, but I decided to come back to Italy. LUISS offered me an important project, with a focus on research, but without neglecting the University’s traditional attention to quality teaching. I was happy to take part in it.”