Problem solvers have been found to be restricted by local search biases and functional fixedness. Drawing on existing solution principles from areas others than the field of the target problem is therefore a viable approach for generating substantial innovations. The nature may serve as a blueprint for new product designs (bionics) and established solutions from one industry may serve to solve an open problem in another industry (cross-industry-innovation).
This research joins case study analysis, surveys and experiments to explore antecedents and consequences of the use of inventive analogies. On the firm level, we investigate the link between company characteristics and the analogical capabilities of firms. On the individual level, this research explores how the problem definition and contextual information impacts the likelihood of individual problem solvers to access analogous solutions.
This research contributes to our understanding of problem solving for innovative tasks and will help to develop approaches for overcoming the restrictions in the identification of novel solutions.