Orphan innovation, or when path-creation goes stale: a design framework to characterize path-dependence in real time

Abstract : How can we identify whether innovation processes in an organization, a region or a sector are stagnating? Moreover, how can we assess the degree of innovation stagnation? These are issues at the core of the management of innovation literature, and the challenge of how to answer these questions in real time remains a problem yet to be solved, particularly in cases where innovation is highly expected. Most path-dependence studies observe the degree of "innovativeness" in novelty creation and analyze path-dependence and path-creation phenomena after the fact, relegating the actors to grasping at the lessons learned rather than providing them with a real-time diagnosis of their specific situation. However, in some lock-in situations where the demand for innovation is high - we label these as orphan innovation situations - characterizing the paths that are potential candidates for path-creation can be critical for the development of the industrial sector. With the goal of assessing path-dependence in real time, we develop a framework to visualize three types of innovation pathways (those explored, those not explored but visible in the present innovation field, and those potential pathways that are unknown in the present innovation field). Using C-K design theory as a conceptual framework, we go further and apply this framework to two case studies to explore its utility as a reference for assessing the degree of innovativeness for a field of innovation. We then explore the framework's potential to provide strategic intelligence to break out of stagnant situations.
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Marine Agogué, Pascal Le Masson, Douglas K. Robinson. Orphan innovation, or when path-creation goes stale: a design framework to characterize path-dependence in real time. Technology Analysis and Strategic Management, Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles, 2012, 24 (6), pp.603-616. ⟨hal-00707372⟩

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