What Do we Know About Innovation?
The study of innovation is a still a relatively young field but one that interacts with several other disciplines including management, economics and sociology.
Understanding how innovation happens and the impact those processes have are vital to both individual businesses and to national economic development. During the past 50 years, innovation scholars have made major contributions in challenging existing ideas and reconfiguring perceived assumptions about the sources and determinants of innovative ideas.
Based on the book chapter ‘The Nature of Innovation’ by Ammon Salter and Oliver Alexy (in Mark Dodgson, Nelson Phillips and David Gann editors, The Oxford Handbook of Innovation Management, Oxford University Press, 2014) we summarise the key findings in the field, applicable to most settings in which innovation occurs.
Innovation Studies, once concerned solely with technological change and developing metrics, is now expanding interest in how information is sourced and combined, as well as in the process of creativity. Recognising that the firm is not always the central agent in the innovation process is also driving a research agenda that focuses on wider collaborative efforts with external ‘others’ including users, universities, firms and governments. Successful innovation therefore is increasingly understood as the result of such relationships and the management of external knowledge and resources, meaning the firm is not always able to control it’s developmental path.