Urenio Watch Watch: Innovation

Discontinuous Innovations

.. [are] ‘those innovations that generate market and/or technological discontinuities. These kinds of innovations affect the abilities of incumbent firms to successfully adapt and respond, as well as to sustain their prior market and technological positions. The literature generally categorises discontinuous innovation as either radical or architectural in nature.

Radical innovation requires knowledge that is usually based on engineering and scientific principles that are unfamiliar to incumbent firms. While such innovation opens up new markets, it also requires new and different technical and commercial skills and new problem-solving approaches that often do not exist in or are difficult to develop by incumbent firms. Architectural innovation is the way in which the components of a product offering are linked together. While leaving the core design concepts untouched, architectural innovation reconfigures established “systems” in new and (potentially) novel ways and thus potentially destroys the usefulness of firms’ existing architectural knowledge……

Discontinuous innovation unsurprisingly contrasts with “incremental innovation” or “sustaining innovation”, which typically introduces relatively minor changes to existing products, exploits the potential of established designs, and reinforces the dominance and capabilities of incumbent firms…..

Literature advances three important claims regarding how firms compete in technological innovation and how entrant-incumbent dynamics evolve. First, innovation evolves through separate and punctuated phases that present distinct technological and competitive demands. Second, firm routines and organisational approaches that are successful in one technology paradigm do not necessarily translate into success in subsequent and other paradigms. Third,disc ontinuous innovations are usually pioneered and commercialised by entrant firms, which typically displace incumbent firms.’

Source: Macher, J.T., and Richman, B.D. (2004) ‘Organisational responses to discontinuous innovation: a case strudy approach, International Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 87–114