Lally Associate Professor Shyam Kumar and Josue Reynoso

In November, at the Product Development and Management Association conference in Chicago, a top global conference on end-to-end product development and innovation management, Rensselaer Lally School of Management Ph.D. student Josue Reynoso won the Best Student Paper award for “Search Across Dual Landscapes: The Impact of Knowledge Transfer and Learning,” co-authored with Lally associate professor and director of the MBA program Shyam Kumar.

In addition to showcasing a variety of prestigious awards, the conference offered a collection of relevant keynotes, workshops, TED-style talks, and presentations from practitioners, academics, and consultants in this growing field. Trends and research in a variety of areas were also featured, such as new product processes, innovation strategy, portfolio management, lifecycle management, market research, and tools and metrics.

“Josue’s selection as the winner of the best student paper award at this global conference reflects the intellectual curiosity and determination of Rensselaer students who, like Josue, are motivated to truly change the world we live in, and how we examine and create solutions for the future,” said Kumar. “Josue is genuinely passionate about deepening our knowledge and understanding of the innovation process, and it has been a great pleasure to work with him.”

The winning paper is based on the Rensselaer team’s examination of how innovation involves both searching for the right problem to solve (i.e., asking the right question), as well as finding an optimal solution (i.e., finding the right answer). Thus a key idea of the paper is that innovation isn’t simply a matter of finding a solution to a pre-defined problem. To capture this notion, the team defined “search” as an iterative process between two spaces: first, a problem formulation space where there is information related to the market needs that must be satisfied, and second, a solution space where there is information related to processes and technologies that can meet those needs.

The researchers then explained that given cognitive limitations, individuals and organizations searching for opportunities iterate back and forth between the two spaces until they find a satisfactory problem-solution pair, and a valuable market opportunity-technology. Search processes of this dual nature are common in various contexts, such as entrepreneurial opportunity elaboration, or strategic decision-making. These search processes also describe the notion of finding product-market fit that is at the heart of the lean startup approach. Kumar and Reynoso’s study departs from the prior academic literature where most existing formal models of search assume the underlying metaphor of actors performing a single landscape solution search (e.g., where problems are well-defined and well-understood).

“It truly is an honor to receive this award for my work with Dr. Kumar. I joined the Lally doctoral program because of my experience working in industry where I became intrigued by the challenges that technological-intensive firms face when pursuing new opportunities,” said Reynoso. “I was interested in a program where I could explore this topic from a global and multidisciplinary perspective. The opportunity to work with such high-caliber faculty in corporate entrepreneurship and innovation management at Lally and the overall reputation at Rensselaer for developing new technologies has made this university a great fit for me.”