What is it?
Dominant Theories
Dominant Authors
Introduction - What is it?

Innovation will be the single most important factor in determining America's success through the 21st century... America's challenge is to unleash its innovation capacity to drive productivity, standard of living and leadership in global markets. At a time when macro-economic forces and financial constraints make innovation-driven growth a more urgent imperative than ever before, American businesses, government, workers and universities face an unprecedented acceleration of global change, relentless pressure for short-term results, and fierce competition from countries that seek an innovation-driven future for themselves. For the past 25 years, we have optimized our organizations for efficiency and quality. Over the next quarter century, we must optimize our society for innovation.

"InnovateAmerica" report by the U.S. Council on Competitiveness

 Innovation, the exploitation of new ideas, is absolutely essential to safeguard and deliver high-quality jobs, successful businesses, better products and services for our consumers, and new, more environmentally friendly processes. . . . The . . [challenge].is to create the conditions where all our firms put innovation at the centre of their strategies for the future (DTI 1).

Tony Blair, UK’s Prime Minister

Both the US and the UK recognize Innovation as a critical success factor in their country’s competitiveness. Prime Minister Tony Blair defined innovation as the exploitation of new ideas. Yet, other definitions exist including “implementing new ideas to create value” (The Innovation Network 2) and “the commercializing of an invention or idea” (O’Connor 3). In 1998 Cumming reviewed close to 30 years of innovation definitions and came up with, “the first successful application of a product or process” (Cumming 4) All of these definitions can be filtered into two parts. Part A is the invention, idea or concept. Part B is the implementation or commercialization or value addition. From a business perspective there is another part that must be considered when analyzing innovation, and that is the management approach. Innovation can be viewed as sitting atop of a three legged table. One leg is invention, another is commercialization and and the 3 rd leg is management approach. Take away any one of those legs, and your ability to innovate slides off the table.

If innovation can be so easily defined, then why is there “a plethora of definitions for innovation types” (Garcia and Calantone 5)? In some cases it has to do with not understanding that innovation is made up of the three parts above, which leads some scholars to confuse an innovation with an invention.

But another more plausible reason is that invention and commercialization are multi-dimensional, this leads to many ways to invent and commercialize a product, process or service. Each of these ways can lead to a different classification of innovation. In his paper which analyzed Radical Innovation, Dan Olofsson wrote “there has however emerged a problem. In the literature there are varying definitions and connotations to the range of innovation types. In some of the literature the denominations have been mainly the same but with different definitions. In other literature the definitions have been roughly the same but with different denominations. This has been confusing to many academics and voices have been raised for a structured and orderly division” (Olofsson 6).

This site attempts to explore and reconcile the different innovation types that are most widely referenced and recognized by both universities and firms. In doing so we have examined both the definitions and the proposed management theories put forth by the “dominant” authors of the most frequently referenced and recognized innovation types. Dominant authors are authors who are most frequently associated with a particular innovation type.


1 The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), The Innovation Report, December 2003
2 The Innovation Network, http://thinksmart.com/inmembership/dnaonline/1part.html
3 RPI, BIET, Dr. O’Connor
4 Brian S. Cumming.  European Journal of Innovation Management.  Bradford: 1998.Vol.1, Iss. 1;  pg. 21
5 Rosanna Garcia and Roger Calantone, 2002, A Critical Look at Technological Innovation Typology and Innovativeness terminology, The Journal of Product Innovation Management
6 Dan Olofsson, Radical product Innovations, IDP, 2003-01-15

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