Before disruptive innovation became a rage, radical innovation was considered to be the innovation that almost always disrupted incumbent firms. But now we know that neither disruptive nor radical innovations always disrupt incumbent firms. Still, radical innovations are and will continue to be challenging for incumbent firms.
What is Radical Innovation?
Radical innovation is what people naturally think of when asked to give an example of innovation. So the Electric car is a radical innovation. The digital camera was one too. More recently, the smart watch is a radical innovation too. They are radical because they use radically different knowledge base from their predecessor products.
Research on Radical Innovations
This week we explored management science research to gather lessons on radical innovations. We found hundreds of papers going back more than 50 years. In short, we have a rich history of research on this subject. In this podcast, we distilled the research findings to make them succinct and easily digestible for managers.
Actionable Insights on Radical Innovations
We also converted these findings into actionable insights for busy managers. In this podcast season, we want to arrive at ‘what you can do’ with the results of research from management literature. We condensed all the research into four actionable steps you can take to ensure that a radical innovation does not disrupt your business. These lessons will also help you manage your innovation pipeline better.
In this episode you will take away four key lessons:
- Why are radical innovations challenging?
- Wha can you do to deal with them and not get disrupted by such innovations?
- What is absorptive capacity and how it helps with radical innovation?
- Four actionable steps you can take to become better at radical innovations.
Although we used many papers, we are citing the most critical ones here. If you would like to explore more, these citations can help you. You can download an extended citation list here
Abernathy, W. J., & Clark, K. B. (1985). Innovation: Mapping the winds of creative destruction. Research Policy, 14(1), 3–22. http://doi.org/10.1016/0048-7333(85)90021-6
Anderson, P., & Tushman, M. L. (1990). Technological Discontinuities and Dominant Designs: A Cyclical Model of Technological Change. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(4), 604–633. http://doi.org/10.2307/2393511
Banbury, C., & Mitchell, W. (1995). The Effect of Introducing Important Incremental Innovations on Market Share and Business Survival. Strategic Management Journal, 16, 161-182. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2486774
Henderson, R. (1993). Underinvestment and Incompetence as Responses to Radical Innovation: Evidence from the Photolithographic Alignment Equipment Industry. The RAND Journal of Economics, 24(2), 248–270. http://doi.org/10.2307/2555761
Henderson, R. M., & Clark, K. B. (1990). Architectural Innovation: The Reconfiguration of Existing Product Technologies and the Failure of Established Firms. Administrative Science Quarterly, 35(1), 9–30. http://doi.org/10.2307/2393549
Lenox, M. and King, A. (2004), Prospects for developing absorptive capacity through internal information provision. Strat. Mgmt. J., 25: 331–345. doi:10.1002/smj.379
Methe, D., Swaminathan, A., & Mitchell, W. (1996). The underemphasized role of established firms as the sources of major innovations. Ind Corp Change, 5(4), 1181–1204. Retrieved from http://icc.oupjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/5/4/1181
Wesley M. Cohen and Daniel A. Levinthal, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 1, Special Issue: Technology, Organizations, and Innovation (Mar., 1990), pp. 128-152
Utterback, W. (1996) Mastering the dynamics of innovation, xxix–253.
How to Listen?
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