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Is newest always best? Firm-level evidence to challenge a focus on high-capability technological (product or process) innovation


O'Brien, K, Is newest always best? Firm-level evidence to challenge a focus on high-capability technological (product or process) innovation, Economics of Innovation and New Technology, 25, (8) pp. 747-768. ISSN 1043-8599 (2016) [Refereed Article]

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© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

DOI: doi:10.1080/10438599.2016.1147194


This paper sets out to address a gap in the empirical literature on the importance of ‘low-capability’ innovation for firms. The study is framed around discussion of the conceptual bias that remains in policy and academic literature towards a narrow subset of technological (product or process) innovation labelled ‘high-capability’ innovation in this paper. The paper argues that this bias influences the public and business community’s understanding of the term ‘innovation’ and has implications for innovation measurement, research, policy and strategy. The study uses data from an economy-wide, regional innovation survey based on the Oslo manual, and includes 648 innovative firms covering all industry sectors. The paper combines elements of both subject and object approaches to innovation measurement, using data from an open-ended survey question to explore the alignment between what firms report as their ‘most important innovation’ (MII) and firm capabilities for introducing ‘high-capability’ technological innovation. Results show that a substantial share of firms report an MII that is a ‘low-capability’ innovation, including those firms with high R&D intensity, those with novel technological innovation, and firms in more innovative sectors of manufacturing and knowledge intensive business services. The paper discusses the implications of this result for future innovation measurement and research.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:innovation capability, technological innovation, novelty, innovation, measurement
Research Division:Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Research Group:Strategy, management and organisational behaviour
Research Field:Innovation management
Objective Division:Economic Framework
Objective Group:Management and productivity
Objective Field:Technological and organisational innovation
UTAS Author:O'Brien, K (Mr Kieran O'Brien)
ID Code:107877
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Australian Innovation Research Centre
Deposited On:2016-03-30
Last Modified:2017-10-18
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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