Newswise — Troy, N.Y. —Gina Colarelli O'Connor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute associate dean for academic affairs and professor of marketing and innovation management at the Lally School of Management, has co-authored Beyond the Champion: Institutionalizing Innovation Through People. The new book, which hit store shelves this month, is published by Stanford Business Books with co-authors Andrew Corbett, professor and entrepreneurship division chair at Babson College, and the late Lois S. Peters, former associate professor and director of the M.S. in Technology, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship program at Lally. It addresses the perennial challenges that large mature companies such as DuPont, Kodak, and GE have faced in defending against disruptive technologies and charting new pathways for organic growth. 

As large companies invent far more than they commercialize, the result is underleveraged research and development investments and threats from investors to disassemble these iconic enterprises that hold treasure troves of opportunity.  That need not be the case, according to O’Connor et al., if these companies can develop a capability for strategic innovation.

Beyond the Champion argues that innovation is a talent all its own that requires distinct skills and expertise, just like finance or marketing,” said O’Connor. “Viewing innovation as a discipline in its own right, it is easy to see that breakthrough wins require an organizational design with clearly delineated roles, responsibilities, and career tracks for those who shoulder the responsibility for new platforms of growth.”

Drawing on the results of a four-year study and two decades of related research, this book outlines three fundamental organizational competencies necessary for innovation: discovery, incubation, and acceleration. Mapping these organizational competencies onto roles and opportunities for advancement, the authors deliver a pioneering blueprint for sustainable innovation.

O’Connor is also the lead author of Grabbing Lightning: Building a Capability for Breakthrough Innovation (Jossey-Bass, 2008), and the popular innovation blog

The Rensselaer Lally M.S. in Technology Commercialization and Entrepreneurship (TC&E) program gives students the skills required to become critical players in the rapidly evolving world of breakthrough innovation. In the TC&E program, students work alongside inventors and scientists to develop and test new business models; confront key issues of management, funding, and law; and interface with forward-thinking faculty focused on how business can help solve serious global challenges.

The exciting research by Gina O’Connor is a reflection of The New Polytechnic, an emerging paradigm for teaching, learning, and research at Rensselaer. The New Polytechnic emphasizes and supports collaboration across disciplines, sectors, and regions to address the great global challenges of our day, using the most advanced tools and technologies, many of which are developed at Rensselaer. Research at Rensselaer addresses some of the world’s most pressing technological challenges—from energy security and sustainable development to biotechnology and human health. The New Polytechnic is transformative in the global impact of research, in its innovative pedagogy, and in the lives of students at Rensselaer.


About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America’s first technological research university. For nearly 200 years, Rensselaer has been defining the scientific and technological advances of our world. Rensselaer faculty and alumni represent 86 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 17 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 8 members of the National Academy of Medicine, 8 members of the National Academy of Inventors, and 5 members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, as well as 6 National Medal of Technology winners, 5 National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With 7,000 students and nearly 100,000 living alumni, Rensselaer is addressing the global challenges facing the 21st century—to change lives, to advance society, and to change the world. To learn more, go to

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