Technology-Push or Market-Pull?: A Model for Managing the Innovation Process in Malawian Firms

Technology-Push or Market-Pull?: A Model for Managing the Innovation Process in Malawian Firms

Edwin Saidi (Financial Intelligence Unit, Malawi)
Copyright: © 2011 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/jide.2011100103
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Technological advancements and market needs are some of the significant forces fuelling the introduction of products and services in a wide range of business sectors. Many product and service providers have utilized the so-called technology-push and market-pull, the simple linear views of innovation which prescribe the use of technological discoveries and the involvement of the market respectively to produce goods and services. Others have gone further to adopt models of innovation which recognize the interaction of the different functional units of a firm and the combination of the technology-push and market-pull views with feedback from the external environment. Malawi has witnessed the introduction of a complete array of technology-based products and services catering for different business sectors. This paper investigates how Malawian firms manage the process of innovation in the development or introduction of Information Technology (IT) products and services and proposes suitable models which firms can adopt in managing and strategizing around technological innovation in the Malawian environment. The results suggest that while firms must adhere to specific models of innovation, it is generally useful to take full advantage of the linear market-pull model and the conceptual framework of innovation.
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Innovation and invention are different but related terms that have often been confused in literature. While invention centres on the creation of new ideas and knowledge, or application of existing ideas to new products (Hannay, 1980), innovation goes further to develop the invention into a product in the market (Trott, 2002). Many models have been developed to help organizations understand and manage the innovation process. Rothwell (2002) identifies the simplest level as the linear model, which considers innovation as a sequence of activities. Dominant views in this model are that either technology or the market is the primary source of ideas to achieve successful innovation. These views are termed technology-push and market-pull respectively. Other models emphasize on the importance of combining the knowledge of the different functional units of an organization. And yet others incorporate the technology-push and market-pull views and identify communication and feedback loops between the different elements of the organization and the external environment.

The existence of many models of innovation does not, nonetheless, introduce a general model that may cater for all industries, or specifically any industry in Malawi. Innovation would create a competitive advantage for firms offering IT products and services in Malawi to one or more of such industries as telecommunications, banking, accounting, financial services, agriculture and healthcare. This paper, therefore, investigates the management of innovation in the introduction of IT products and services in Malawi. In this context, the various models of innovation are discussed to provide the necessary background for analysis and observation. The paper further draws from literature to propose innovation models suitable for Malawi.

The document is organized as follows: the first section introduces the research followed by a review of literature in section two. In section three, the gap in literature which the study intends to fill is identified. The research methodology, presentation of the research findings and an analysis of the results dominate sections four, five and six respectively. A summary of the study is given in section seven.

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