Innovations' Origins: When, By Whom, and How Are Radical Innovations Developed?

Golder, Peter N.; Shacham, Rachel; Mitra, Debanjan
January 2009
Marketing Science;Jan/Feb2009, Vol. 28 Issue 1, p166
Academic Journal
Innovation research tends to consider only the post-commercialization period or examine a few innovations through case studies. In this study, we examine 29 radical innovations from initial concept to mass-market commercialization. We find that these innovations were developed over an average of at least 50 years and divide this long development period into four distinct stages--conceptualization, gestation, early incubation, and late incubation. We find that the duration of a stage is longer when different firms lead product development at the beginning and end of the stage. These changes in product development leaders happen frequently, e.g., 76% of firms that were first to commercialize an innovation failed to launch it in the broader market. We also find that the time-to-takeoff for a product category is significantly related to the duration of the preceding late incubation stage. In addition, we find four different ways in which radical innovations borrow from prior seemingly unrelated innovations. We report many other findings on when (duration times), by whom (product development leaders), and how (technology borrowing) radical innovations are developed.


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