company’s organizational and financial wherewithal

On the other hand, the company’s organizational and financial wherewithal are married with a well thought out and clearly defined strategy geared towards its competitors (Teece 2010). When one of the goals of the organization is to achieve progress under the auspices of innovation, the most reliable way is to nature a business model. a robust business model in conjunction with high-quality cross-functional capabilities by establishing the features of its products and services (i.e., value proposition) for the usage of the products and services, target market segments, design of revenue streams and cost structures, ways of offering products and services to customers and, mechanisms of capturing values (BAH 2006; Teece, 2010). The business model consists of four related factors that include resources, processes, customer value proposition, and profit formula that, when taken together, can create and deliver value to firms and their customers (Johnson, Christensen and Kagermann, 2008). Charan and Lafley (2008, p.41) further posit that “the heart of a company’s business model should be game-changing innovation.” This is not only limited to the invention of new products and services but also modalities for systematically converting ideas into new opportunities and products that can change the context of business, reshape industry and marketplace, and redistribute values based on unique competencies, technologies,    or both (Dorf& Byers, 2008).

The dynamic of the innovation model, developed by William Abernathy in 1974, provides a valuable template that describes the linkages between changes in the processes, product innovation, and organizational structure in firms that occur in observable patterns across industries and markets. The innovation business model takes into consideration such other factors as market realities and competitive business environments, which occur in three stages- fluid, transmission, and specificity- when dealing with the dynamics of innovation (Utterback, 1994). The perception of the innovation model has, however, evolved. Hargaddon and Sutton (2001), for instance, describe best innovators as those who recycle old ideas and use them as the basis for new ideas in what is known as the “knowledge-brokering system.” The “knowledge-brokering system” adopts a four-part approach in generating ideas. The four stages include steps such as capturing good old ideas, keeping the captured ideas alive, imagining new uses for the old ideas, and putting those that hold much promise to test.  Rothwell (1994) and Xu et al. (2007), on the other hand, enumerate five generations of the innovation model development that have grown increasingly efficient over the ages. As the innovation model has evolved, so has it metastasized from a simple linear model into an integrated and networked model, as shown in Table 2.4.

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Table 2.4: Five generations of innovation models

Generations/Phases Innovation Models/Main Constitutes Theory Foundation
The Starting Point (the 1950s-1960s) Individual employees, organizational processes, internal and external influences, and technological advancement Driving force
The Second Generation (the 1960s-1970s) Firm’s resources, market structures,  staff promotion, Research and Development Newton classical mechanism
The Third Generation (the 1970s-1980s) Impact of the external factors, Coupling, user innovation preferences Newton classical mechanism
The Fourth Generation (the 1980s-1990s) Improved company’s Portfolio, integrated efforts towards systematic innovation System theory
The Fifth Generation (the 21st century) Development of an integrated approach towards innovation and management Ecosystem

Source: Adopted from Rothwell (1994) and Xu et al. (2007).

The innovation model is also fast-shifting away from manufacturer-centered innovation approaches that places the onus on manufacturers to identify customer needs, develop new and or improved products at their own expense and selling the said products for profits to innovation approaches that are collaborative and are user-centered where lead users are charged with the responsibility of developing improvised versions of new and or improved products that serve their needs at their cost. The users are then free to make public and commercialize their discoveries in the open market (Von Hippel, 2006). These customer-centric innovation models have been lauded for delivering innovation results that meet and exceed market expectations (Selden and MacMillan, 2006). consequentially, increased customer engagements have, in turn, inspired a rise in the understanding of customer needs, and this has a profound impact on a firm’s market capitalization. Additionally, these collaborative and collective approaches to innovation also help firms gain knowledge of innovation practices and thus close growth gaps (Selden and MacMillan, 2006). These innovation models at the forefront of global business competition have grown to rely less on individual processes within companies and have since evolved into interactive processes that bring together firms and institutions in a collaborative effort to generate ideas that enjoy lesser intellectual property protection at national and global levels (Tapscott and Williams, 2008). This has enabled firms to operate beyond their limiting internal environments and resources and to make use of this new “open innovation model.” According to Chesbrough et al. (2006), open innovation is “the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate innovation and to expand the markets for external use of innovation.” The benefits of open innovation can, however, differ from one firm to another, with large firms usually at an advantage because they enjoy economies of scale in their innovation process (Lee et al. 2010). It is for this reason that Colombo, Piva, and Rossi-Lamastra (2013) advise small firms in the emerging markets to look beyond their institutional boundaries, with terms such as “wikinomics” being used to urge and describe how small firms can collaborate with peer production companies during the evolution of the Internet. Scott and Chaston (2013), on the other hand, postulate that small and medium-sized firms dogged by resource constraints, limited technological assets, and relatively more modest innovation portfolios and market channels can benefit from open innovation and significantly reduce their operating costs besides improving their internal processes. This could go some way in addressing the delays associated with implementing open innovation models (Dahlander and Gann, 2010).

  • Determinants of and Driving Forces behind Innovation

Innovation, irrespective of a firm’s size, is usually inspired and affected by a multiplicity of factors, some internal and others external (Hjalager, 2010). For a firm to better understand, fully develop, and exploit its innovation potential, an identification of these internal and external determinants of and driving forces behind innovation need to be undertaken. This has been the specialty of classical innovation literature that seeks to address this through three different theoretical frameworks: Marshallian,  Schumpeterian, and technology-push/ market pull.

The 1920s Marshallian framework views innovation systems as the building blocks of industrial districts or industrial clusters. It argues that industrial zones comprise of different components that include inherited business traditions, infrastructure, competencies, inherent skills, and trade systems. It further postulates that these industrial districts are situated in specific localities and resource compositions that are critical for the development of those firms and the geographical areas in which they are located. The social networks and the geographic proximity of such industrial clusters also influence their ability to acquire and implement innovation practices (Hjalager, 2010).

The Schumpeterian approach (1934), on the other hand, views entrepreneurs as agents who initiate and shape disturbances to the market equilibrium and then look to rectify the disorders by making significant contributions to innovative processes. He, thus, describes entrepreneurs as “creative destructors” capable of radically changing customer preferences through the novelty of ideas and an innate ability to set new standards with innovations. At an organizational level, this approach views firms as agents that continuously seek to create “new combinations” of resources and capabilities while also working to improve their capacities and competencies to imitate or outperform their competitors. Schumpeter (1934) calls this process “creative destruction.” This innovation model not only creates organizational and market disturbance but also aims at scaling the profits and competitive advantages enjoyed by firms over their competitors (Cromer et al. 2011). Schumpeter (1934) posits that to maintain a competitive edge, firms should possess the capability and competency to develop their technological, intellectual, financial, information, and human resources, among others, in what he calls a “continuous cycle of internal creative destruction.”

Lastly, the technological-push/ market pull approach views the rate and direction of a firm’s innovative processes to be dependent on technology-push dictated by scientific and technological developments or by market-pull, which is informed by the unmet customer and market needs (Nemet, 2009). This compels firms to look for new methods and models that help them unearth new and or modified products and services to satisfactorily cater to the needs of new and existent markets (Brem and Voigt, 2009). This innovation model adopts a binary approach to understanding innovation practices. Technology-push is viewed as a radical technology-intensive innovation process that is dependent on a firm possessing the requisite technical ability and know-how to help it in the commercialization of its products and services (Walsh et al. 2002). Market-pull, on the contrary, adopts an incremental approach to innovation and is dependent on the existence of market demand (Kirchhoff and Newbert, 2002). Abernathy and Utterback (1978) posit that the technology-push model is relevant at the early stages of a product life cycle with market-pull featuring at the latter stages of diffusion. Shepherd and Ahmed (2000), on the other hand, observe that there has been a shift from technology-push to market-pull models of innovation owing to customer sophistication and complexities associated with customer demands and needs. Von Hippel (1988) notes that this has seen more firms offer more products and services in response to market-pull and, as a result spurring innovation for responsive manufacturers, which then record higher successes in meeting customer needs.

  • Indicators, Measurements, and Performance of Innovation

Most of the existing literature on innovation research focuses on the identification and measurement of development intensity in indicating a firm’s innovation potential (Smith, 2005). However, besides development intensity, resource inputs in terms of personnel and finances and collaborations between academic institutions and research centers can also help a firm scale up its innovation processes and thus inform the introduction of new processes, products, and services (Hjalager, 2010). To this end, innovation and business growth performance can be examined and evaluated using key indicators such as sales growth, return on investments and assets, and market capitalization. According to Miller and Floricel (2004), sales growth, return on investment, and a firm’s innovative capacity are also critical indicators of a firm’s innovative capability. O’Connor et al. (2008), on the other hand, show that the impact of research and development spending on innovation activities as a percentage of sales to be very negligible while O’Sullivan and Dooley (2009) posit that efficiency, speed, and market share are also crucial in shaping a firm’s innovative journey.

Mole and Worrall (2001) argue that there are three main ways of examining and gauging different innovative measures. They describe the three modules as either being radical (with a focus on the introduction of new products and services to the market), incremental (with a focus on modifying existing products and services to the market), or diffusion which focuses on introducing new products and services to the firm. Kim and Mauborgne (2001) further add three tools to evaluate the commercial readiness of new business ideas: buyer utility map, price corridor of mass, and business model. These tools have been used to investigate the roots of profitable growth, placing innovation as the key driver. Innovation performance and business growth improvement can also be evaluated by a comprehensive approach that balances analytical rigor of control-systems and softer-side determinants that encompass creativity, leadership, agility, learning culture, and teamwork (BAH 2006). A firm’s business growth performance indicators can also be non- financial and focus on evaluating factors such as client satisfaction, idea generation rate, lead-time for product and service innovation and development, internal business process efficiency and staff satisfaction and retention (O’Sullivan & Dooley 2009).

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