Should companies try to launch new ventures?

Should established companies even try to launch new ventures regularly? Two management researchers discussed that question recently.

Should established companies even try to launch new ventures regularly? That question was the subject of an interesting discussion between Julian Birkinshaw of London Business School and Andrew Campbell of Ashridge Strategic Management Centre; their discussion was contained in a recent newsletter from MLab, in an article called "Debating Innovation."

Campbell, in particular, urged established companies to be very conservative in their approach to innovation and pursuing new ventures. He wrote:

Don't be blindly enthusiastic about doing new things: the cost can easily exceed the benefit. Innovate in a focused pragmatic way in areas where the gains are likely to be bigger than the costs...Don't set up venturing units or venturing processes unless the opportunities you face are so exciting that you expect to have a continuous stream of new projects that will require processing.

Interestingly, both Birkinshaw and Campbell were coauthors of a 2003 MIT Sloan Management Review article called "The Future of Corporate Venturing."