«Innovation typology comparisons»

Rosanna Garcia y Roger Calantone. «A Critical Look at Technological Innovation Typology and Innovativeness Terminology: A Literature Review». Journal of Product Innovation Management, vol. 19, n.º 2, March 2002. See references in the original publication of this text.

«Innovation typology comparisons

»There is no question that not all innovations are the same. Accordingly, they are frequently classified into typologies as a means of identifying their innovative characteristics or degree of innovativeness. It has been theorized and empirically tested that the varying degrees of newness and the discontinuities resulting from highly innovative innovations will change the important factors in the NPD process [18, 47,54]. This contingency approach to the NPD process has resulted in researchers devising ad hoc typologies to label degrees of innovativeness. A review of the literature reveals the following categorizations:

»_ eight categories–reformulated/new parts/remerchan- dising/new improvements/new products/new user/ new market/new customers [29]; Y five categories–systematic/major/minor/incremental/ unrecorded [18];

»_ tetra-categorization –incremental/modular/architec- tural/radical [27], niche creation/architectural/regular/ revolutionary [1], incremental/evolutionary market/ evolutionary technical/radical [42], incremental/ market breakthrough/technological breakthrough/ radical [7], incremental/architectural/fusion/ breakthrough [57];

»_ triadic categorization–low innovativeness/moderate innovativeness/high innovativeness [31], incremental/ new generation/radically new [62] and,

»_ dichotomous categorization–discontinuous/continu- ous [3,47], instrumental/ultimate [23], variations/re- orientations [43], true/adoption [37], original/refor- mulated [64], innovations/reinnovations [49], radical/ routine [38], evolutionary/revolutionary [59], sustaining/disruptive [9], really new/incremental [50, 54], breakthrough/incremental [46], and radical/incre- mental [5,18,4,30,35,52,56].

»This abundance of typologies has resulted in the same name being used for different types of innovations and the same innovation being classified under different typologies. The following review of four different classifications by four groups of researchers will demonstrate this point.

»Utterback [59] provides the following definition of a discontinuous or radical innovation: “By discontinuous change or radical innovation, I mean change that sweeps away much of a firm’s existing investment in technical skills and knowledge, designs, production technique, plant and equipment” [p. 200]. From Utterback’s perspective, dislocation or discontinuity at the firm level or in the industry accompanies the introduction of radical innovations. Continuous (incremental) innovations give way to standardization and status quo within the firm or industry.

»Rothwell and Gardiner [49] focus on technological discontinuity, by emphasizing ‘reinnovations’ or improvements on existing innovations. Their dichotomy of ‘innovations’ and ‘reinnovations’ leads to several subcategories. ‘Innovations’ are radically new inventions establishing landmark new products, and as such, create new industries. ‘Reinnovations’ dominate much of the contemporary “real” industrial world. They result in existing technology improving upon existing product design (incremental), new technology improving existing products (generational), existing technology creating new products (new mark products), improved materials improving existing products (improvements), and new technology improving subsystems of existing products (minor details).

»Another viewpoint, Kleinschmidt and Cooper’s [31] study of 195 new products, leads to a triad categorization. Klein- schmidt and Cooper’s typology distinguishes between ‘high’, ‘moderate’, and ‘low’ innovativeness. Highly innovative prod- ucts include new to the world products and new to the firm lines, which are also new to the market. Moderately innovative products consist of less innovative new lines to the firm and new products to the existing product line. Low innovative products include modifications, cost reductions, and repositioning.

»A fourth perspective, Abernathy and Clark’s [1] matrix categorization focuses on competitive significance by mapping technology competence against market environments. The four resulting categories for innovations are ‘niche creation’, ‘architectural’, ‘regular’ and ‘revolutionary’.In niche creations, stable and wellspecified existing technology is refined, improved, or changed to support a new market position. These refinements build on established technical competence and improve product applicability in emerging market segments. Architectural innovations forge new market linkages with new technology through the creation of new industries or the reformation of existing ones. They set the future architecture of the industry. Regular innovations build on established technical and production competences targeted to existing markets and customers. They often involve incremental improvements in process technology. Revolutionary innovations disrupt and obsolete technical and production competence but target existing markets and customers.

»A couple of examples will demonstrate how just these four different classification approaches can lead to different labeling of the same innovation. A classic example is the typewriter. Utterback [59] writes, “Discontinuities were observed between the periods of the manual typewriter, electrics, dedicated work processors, and personal computers. Of the large manual type- writer firms of the early twentieth century, none were successful in jumping onto the bandwagon of the electric typewriter; it was IBM, an outsider that developed both the product and its market” [p. 201]. Based on this scenario, Utterback would designate the electric typewriter as a radical innovation because the new technology brought about industrial discontinuity and new competitors.

»The Rothwell and Gardiner typology identified an ‘incremental’ design as adding radical new features to improve upon an existing innovation. Thus, Rothwell and Gardiner would label the electrical technology advancement from manual to electric typewriters as an incremental innovation. Kleinschmidt and Cooper would label the typewriter technology evolution a moderate innovation and Abernathy and Clark would call it a revolutionary innovation.

»Another example is the Canon laser photocopier which produced digital signals that could be electronically digitally processed, stored or transmitted simultaneously to a number of distant slave printers. The analog system of its conventional predecessors were unable to network. The new technology was the application of a laser and electronic information processing step inserted between the original optical and print systems. The digital processing subsystem allowed the production of a technologically new laser digital copier. Utterback would label the movement from analog to digital technology a market broadening, competence enhancing, radical innovation. Yet for Rothwell and Gardiner, radical technology embedded in a reinnovation does not constitute a radical innovation, instead just a redesign on an ‘innovation’. Thus, they would label this innovation an incremental innovation with a subassembly change. Kleinschmidt and Cooper would label it a moderate innovation, and to Abernathy and Clark the copier technology evolution is a regular innovation.

»As these two examples demonstrate, the same innovation can be labeled on either ends of the scale of innovativeness depending on the researcher. This ambiguity in classification schema makes it impractical, if not impossible, to accurately compare research studies. With these types of terminology irregularities, it is impossible to accumulate knowledge regarding innovation types and how their varying degrees of newness alter the NPD process. The next section will review how inconsistencies also plague the operationalization of product innovativeness in empirical literature.»

Innovation Typologies
Thematic Readings

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