A critical look at technological innovation typology and innovativeness terminology: a literature review


A plethora of definitions for innovation types has resulted in an ambiguity in the way the terms 'innovation' and 'innovativeness' are operationalized and utilized in the new product development literature. The terms radical, really-new, incremental and discontinuous are used ubiquitously to identify innovations. One must question, what is the difference between these different classifications? To date consistent definitions for these innovation types have not emerged from the new product research community. A review of the literature from the marketing, engineering, and new product development disciplines attempts to put some clarity and continuity to the use of these terms. This review shows that it is important to consider both a marketing and technological perspective as well as a macrolevel and microlevel perspective when identifying innovations. Additionally, it is shown when strict classifications from the extant literature are applied, a significant shortfall appears in empirical work directed toward radical and really new innovations. A method for classifying innovations is suggested so that practitioners and academics can talk with a common understanding of how a specific innovation type is identified and how the innovation process may be unique for that particular innovation type. A recommended list of measures based on extant literature is provided for future empirical research concerning technological innovations and innovativeness.

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