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Catalyst Organizations as a New Organization Design for Innovation

Catalyst Organizations as a New Organization Design for Innovation: The Case of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies 

Ann Majchrzak, Terri L. Griffith, David K. Reetz, and Oliver Alexy 

The crucial contingencies surrounding organization design for innovation are experiencing drastic shifts. First, environmental uncertainty is rising with the increasingly connected nature of innovation. Second, the internet provides an almost costless supply of external knowledge. Current organization design theory does not provide adequate frames for studying organizations attempting to simultaneously leverage shifts of uncertainty and the costless supply of external knowledge. In the process of qualitatively examining one such organization – the crowd-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, Inc. (HTT) – we find that HTT’s design does not fit existing design schema. We label this new design form a “catalyst” organization, clarifying how HTT’s design challenges existing organization design principles while simultaneously showing researchers a way forward to new theorizing. We derive implications for theories of organization design, exploration, and online knowledge-creating communities. 

innovation, crowds, organization design, gig economy, environmental uncertainty

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