How Firms Deal with Discontinuous Innovation: An Empirical Analysis

How Firms Deal with Discontinuous Innovation: An Empirical Analysis

Davide Aloini (University of Pisa, Italy) and Antonella Martini (University of Pisa, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0134-5.ch008

Abstract

Management literature has highlighted that under discontinuous conditions, incumbents have encountered serious obstacles in identifying, developing, and commercializing innovations as traditional and validated ‘good’ approaches are not adequate, or even counterproductive. It is therefore necessary to identify and deploy the practices that organisations could apply for enhancing their capacity to manage innovation under such complex environmental conditions. Based on a comprehensive literature review on search practices and on the empirical background of the Discontinuous Innovation Lab - a research network covering around 180 firms in 12 countries - a questionnaire has been submitted to a 500 high tech Italian firm sample (respondents are R&D directors or general managers). This chapter analyses in detail the relations between search practices, their antecedents (culture, organizational context, R&D expenditure, market turbulence, etc.), and performance (in terms of competences and innovation).
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Search Practices For Radical Innovation Under Discontinuous Conditions

Figure 1 describes the three key components of DI process: search for new ideas, selection to decide which particular ideas should be investigated and implementation of evaluated concepts so as to produce an effective response to the market in terms of reaction to or innovation creation.

Figure 1.

Search phase of the innovation process

Search phase lies at the fuzzy front end (FE), and specifically at the ‘early’ front-end, where activities are related to generate ideas, managing ideas and locate opportunities, while selection and concepts development refer to the ‘later’ front-end – i.e. the selection phase.

In the literature, there are two main activities in the Search phase: idea generation and idea management. Idea generation refers to environmental scanning, seeding ideas and opportunity identification; idea management is the process of capturing, storing, and organizing ideas to be used in the late FE processes.

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