Radical innovation

Major radical changes, where old established assets (production lines, skillsets, marketing) get torn up as an organisation attempts to ‘pivot’ and exploit new (perceived)  opportunities.

In the DILC, what you’d mostly expect to see in phase 4 and 5, when pressures have built, but then again, you may see some in earlier phases, but these might be ‘face work ‘/symbolic responses.

Varieties of Capitalism theory reckons Liberal Market Economies are better at radical innovation than incremental innovation, but it’s not that clear-cut…

And of course, you have to say radical social innovation or radical technological (and the line is fuzzy…)  Oh, so complicated…

And Utterback defines as follows…

Utterback [59] provides the following definition of a discontinuous or radical innovation: “By discontinuous change or radical innovation, I mean change that sweeps away much of a firm’s existing investment in technical skills and knowledge, designs, production technique, plant and equipment” [p. 200]. From Utterback’s perspective, dislocation or discontinuity at the firm level or in the industry accompanies the introduction of radical innovations. Continuous (incremental) innovations give way to standardization and status quo within the firm or industry. (Garcia and Calantone, 2002: 117)

J.M. Utterback Mastering the dynamics of innovation, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA (1996)

Garcia, R. and Calantone, R. 2002. A critical look at technological innovation typology and innovativeness terminology: a literature review. Journal of Product Innovation Management, Vol. 19, pp.110-132.

Radical innovations are innovations that cause marketing and technological discontinuities on both a macro and microlevel. Incremental innovations occur only at a microlevel and cause either a marketing ortechnological discontinuity but not both. Really new innovations cover the combinations in between these two extremes. (Garcia and Calantone, 2002: 120)


To read: Dahlin, K. B. and Behrens, D. M. (2005) When is an invention really radical? Defining and measuring technological radicalness, Research Policy, 34(5), pp. 717–737.

see also discontinuous innovation,  incremental innovation, first mover advantage

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