Some time ago I started the Innovation Management Theory series. The objective was to cover the most important authors and theories around innovation within the business world. The core of the series is already complete with the 7 parts you will find below:
The disruptive innovation is probably one of the most important innovation theories of the last decade. The core concepts behind it circulated so fast that already in 1998, one year after the publication of the theory, people were using the term without making reference to Harvard professor Clayton Christensen or to his book The Innovator’s Dilemma (Harvard Business School Press).
In the article covering the Henderson – Clark Model we have seen that the technological knowledge behind innovation can be divided in two dimensions: knowledge of the components and knowledge of the linkage between them, called architectural knowledge.
Abernathy and Utterback tried to break with this standard by creating a model where product innovation, process innovation, competitive environment and organizational structure were all interacting and closely linked together.
In the fifth part of the series I will present the Teece model, which can be used to predict who will profit from an innovation and to understand what company will have higher incentives to invest in certain innovations.
In this article I will introduce the S-curve framework, which is particularly useful for analyzing technological cycles and predicting the introduction, adoption and maturation of innovations.
Henderson and Clark noticed that the Incremental – Radical dichotomy alone was not enough to explain what company would be in a better position to innovate and under what circumstances. They started wondering, for instance, why some incumbents would fail to catch something as straight-forward as some incremental innovations, just like Xerox failed to develop a small plain-paper copier even when it was the leader in xerography technology.
This led academics over the following decades to start exploring alternative variables that could explain what companies would be in a better position to innovate and under what circumstances. In this article we will cover one of the first theories that emerged during the late 1970s, the Incremental-Radical innovation dichotomy.
In previous articles I have outlined how the usage of the term innovation has grown exponentially over the last years. You can hear it in politics, institutions, international organizations and so on. Despite this popularity, however, we can say that innovation management is still an immature “science”. There is no dominant theory on the field and little agreement among managers and academics alike regarding what affects a company’s ability to innovate.