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Innovation management; a literature review of innovation process models and their implications

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The body of innovation management literature grew considerably over the last 35 years. This led to an increasing amount of different models of innovation processes. This paper reviews 12 sources in which models of innovation processes have been proposed. While comparing both the models and their implications, additional attention is paid to several dimensions of innovation searching for patterns that assist in the practical use of the findings. It is found is that from these models, 6 phases could be distilled. Also, from these models an extensive overview was created of 150 important activities -routines -that are increasing innovation success. In the cases these routines were not practical enough for immediate use, management tools were searched for and presented.
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Innovation management; a literature review of
innovation process models and their implications
April 2010
Chris Eveleens
The body of innovation management literature grew considerably over the last 35 years. This led to an increasing
amount of different models of innovation processes. This paper reviews 12 sources in which models of innovation
processes have been proposed. While comparing both the models and their implications, additional attention is paid to
several dimensions of innovation searching for patterns that assist in the practical use of the findings.
It is found is that from these models, 6 phases could be distilled. Also, from these models an extensive overview was
created of 150 important activities - routines - that are increasing innovation success. In the cases these routines were
not practical enough for immediate use, management tools were searched for and presented.
Furthermore, in search for information about in which situations and to what extent these routines and tools should be
used, the following can be said. Some authors are recently gaining more insight in to which routines are better fit for
which situations. However, the main conclusion must be that there is still very little known on this point. Also about
the amount of, or extent to which, routines should be fulfilled is uncovered ground.
1. Introduction
Innovation management is an increasingly covered topic in scientific and management literature over the
past 35 years (see figure 1). The reason for this interest is likely to be the realisation that innovation is of
key importance for survival of an organisation. Whether it concerns firms that need to compete for
market share or profit (Cooper 2005, Hamel and Prahalad 1998, Kaplan and Norton 1992) or public
organisations that need improve their services (Hartley 2005, Mulgan and Albury 2003), does not matter.
The need for innovation is imperative (Tidd and Bessant
2005). Or in Coopers words, “It’s war: Innovate or
die” (Cooper, 2005a, p. 4).
But at the same time, innovation is not easy. Innovation
efforts over time gave us a multitude of failed innovation
projects (See e.g. box 1 on the next page). Even huge
companies that once were the forerunners and creators of
whole markets have failed to stay competitive when (mayor
technological) changes occurred (Hamel and Prahalad 1994,
Utterback 1994, Christensen 1998). An organisation is so
involved with - and simply used to - what they are good in
(core competencies), they become trapped in it. When the
environment changes (e.g. changing consumer needs,
changing regulation) organisations are not able to adapt
(Leonard-Barton 1992, Benner and Tushman 2000).
Innovation management; a literature review of innovation process models and their implications
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Science Direct search
Search: innovation management. Fields: title,
keywords, abstract. In: all books and journals
Figure 1. Number of papers and books about
innovation management over the years as
searched in Science Direct
1.1 Innovation
How the innovation process should be managed,
depends on how you look at innovation. The definition of
innovations varies across sub-fields of innovation
research (see some examples in box 2).
As can be seen, innovation come in a variety of types;
product or services. Second, there seems to be a debate
whether innovation needs to be successful in order to call
it innovation. Compare on this point for example Hartley
(2006) and Jacobs and Snijders (2008). A third variation
is that authors differ in including (Drucker 1985b, Jacobs
and Snijders 2008) or excluding (Tidd and Bessant
2005, ) the the post-launch- or commercialisation phase
of the innovation process. But in all cases, innovation is
not only an idea, it is also the implementation of it.
Independent of how you actually define innovation, it is
good to know that the phenomenon of innovation is not
new (Verloop 2004). Already in pre-historic times,
mankind was able to turn ideas into realisation. Over
time, countless innovations were developed, such as
controlling fire (Goudsblom 1992), democracy as a form
of government (Alan Dahl et al. 2003), railway
(companies) (Freeman and Louçã 2001), the light bulb (Bright 1949) and a more recent example, the
development of new medicine (Achilladelis and Antonakis 2001).
As can be seen from even this thin slice of the innovation pie, the variation among innovations is huge.
Innovations vary along at least five dimensions; type
and degree of novelty of the innovation, type and size
of the organisation in which the innovation project took
place and fifth, the environment/sector in which the
innovation was developed.
The first dimension is innovation type. In line with
several authors I distinguish product-, process- and
service innovations (Luecke and Katz 2003, Albury
2005). Second, the degree of novelty is considered.
Jacobs and Snijders (2008) speak of a fuzzy approach
to novelty in which all innovations can be assigned
along an axis from incremental to radical. Albury and
Mulgan (2003) distinguish, incremental, radical and
systemic innovation. In this paper, however, the clarity
of the incremental - radical dimension is used.
Third, a distinction is made between innovations that
took place in an private firm or in a public organisation.
The comparison between these two is still not made
often while it is suggested that the management of
innovation in public organisations is different to that in
Innovation management; a literature review of innovation process models and their implications
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Box 1. Innovation failures
(Tidd and Bessant 2005 pp. 37)
“In 1952 Ford engineers began working on a new
car to counter the mid-size models offered by GM
and Chrysler - the ‘E’ car. After an exhaustive
search for a name involving some 20 000
suggestions the car was finally named after Edsel
Ford, Henry Ford’s only son. It was not a success;
when the first Edsels came off the production line
Ford had to spend an average of $10 000 per car
(twice the vehicle’s cost) to get them roadworthy.
A publicity plan was to have 75 Edsels drive out on
the same day to local dealers; in the event the
firm only managed to get 68 to go, whilst in
another live TV slot the car failed to start. Nor
were these teething troubles; by 1958 consumer
indifference to the design and concern about its
reputation led the company to abandon the car -
at a cost of $450 m. And 110847 Edsels.”
“Whilst the Internet was seen as a seedbed for an
enormous number of new ventures, the
experience of the ‘dot-coms’ has not all been rosy.
Some firms like Amazon and Yahoo! Saw their
share prices surge upwards on initial flotation -
but for them and many others the bubble burst.
New players were ill-equipped to survive and only
a handful of the original start-ups ramain - but
even large and established players were hit hard.
For example, the giant telecommunications player
BT lost 60% of its market value, whilst Marconi
eventually went under.”
Box 2. Definitions of innovation
“Industrial innovation includes the technical, design,
manufacturing, management and commercial
activities involved in the marketing of a new (or
improved) product or the first commercial use of a
new (or improved) process or equipment” (Freeman
“Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the
means by which they exploit change as an
opportunity for a different business or
service.” (Drucker 1985)
“Innovation is the successful exploitation of new
ideas” (UK DTI 2004)
“Successful innovation is the creation and
implementation of new processes, products,
services and methods of delivery which result in
significant improvements in outcomes, efficiency,
effectiveness or quality” (Albury 2005)
Innovation is “the successful development,
implementation and use of new or structurally
improved products, processes, services or
organisational forms” (Hartley, 2006).
Innovation is “something new being realised with
(hopefully) added value” (Jacobs and Snijders
private firms (Hartley 2006). As a fourth dimension, the size of organisation is considered. It could be
interesting to see if management techniques are different in small organisations compared to large ones.
At last, the stability of environment is gauged to determine to what extend this affects the management
It is interesting to use these dimensions when considering innovation management models and activities
as they might explain which management approaches should be used in certain situations.
1.2 Defining and researching the innovation process
Innovation is not new and it comes in many forms. Also, as many authors argue, it is important for
organisations to innovate (Hamel and Prahalad 1998, Tidd and Bessant 2005, Mulgan and Albury 2003).
Therefore, scholars and practitioners have studied how innovation can actually be managed. Hansen and
Birkinshaw (2007) define innovation management as the active and conscious organisation, control and
execution of activities that lead to innovation. A similar definition is used by Jacobs and Snijder (2008):
the management of the innovation process.
The innovation process is defined as the development and selection of ideas for innovation and the
transformation of these ideas into the innovation (Jacobs and Snijders 2008). To emphasise the uncertain
character of this innovation process, other authors use the innovation journey (Van der Ven 1999). An
innovation project is in this paper used as being the innovation process of one particular innovation.
Andrew and Sirkin (2006) argue that the management of an innovation project is essentially like any
other business projects, though it comes with more risk and uncertainty.
The body of literature around the topic of
innovation management is relatively
young. Since roughly halfway through the
last century innovation became a topic of
research. Before we continue, it may proof
interesting to understand the cycle of
theory and practise from which our current
knowledge draws (figure 2).
The first step in managing innovation is to
understand how the innovation process can
be successfully influenced. This is pursued
by empirical studies on successful
companies and thereby describing how
they organise innovation (e.g. Van de Ven
and Poole (1990), Rothwell et al. (1974),
Andrew et al. 2007).
Once understanding how the innovation process can be positively influenced, the next step is to make a
best practise model (e.g. Cooper 1986, Rothwell 1994, Van der Ven et al. 1999, Tidd and Bessant 2005).
Then this knowledge can be used in practise to actively manage the process. This management basically
means to tweak and alter the factors to increase quality and efficiency of the innovation process and to
decrease the time it takes and the chance on failure.
Measure best practises
Model best practises
Measure success of management
Manage based on theory +
new insights
Change in environment
Figure 2. Cycle of research and practice. Blue indicates business;
Green indicates research
Innovation management; a literature review of innovation process models and their implications
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Good innovation research is therefore constantly moving from theory to practice and back to theory. As
we will see, in the innovation models described, some are based on empirical research (or experience),
and other on theory.
1.3 Aim of this paper
Research on the process of innovation over the last 35 years has provided us with a broad range of
innovation process models (see e.g. Evitt 2007). The first aim of this paper is therefore to give an
overview of the models of innovation processes and the contextual factors indirectly influencing the
Knowing how the innovation process can be theoretically and conceptually modelled is the first step, but
without the implications for the management of the process, it is of little value. The second aim therefore
is to extract the management implications from these models. This is essentially about which
management routines and tools need to be used to stimulate the process of innovation.
The third aim is to explore the further implications of the obtained list of routines and tools.
Logically, the three research questions that guide this paper are therefore:
1. What innovation process models exist in literature?
2. What management routines and management tools can be extracted from literature that stimulate
the innovation process?
3. What further implications for the practical use of innovation management routines and tools can be
found in literature?
Concerning the last aim, the paper distinguishes the dimensions of innovation as motivated above, to find
out if the practical implications are different for different innovations.
1.4 Overview
To answer these research questions, this paper is simply structured as follows. In the next three
chapters, respectively the three research questions will be treated. In an discussing and concluding
chapter the implications are summarised and discussed.
2. Innovation process models
Models are simplified representations of reality. The variety among models about innovation management
is the result of on the one hand still little consensus as to how an innovation process should look like, and
on the other hand because of the purpose with which it was developed. For example, a descriptive model
including a best practice in a set of technological manufacturing firms will be different to a prescriptive
model about how to manage innovation in a police department.
This section does not claim to include all existing models, but it gives a broad scope of the variation that
exists. The method used to search for sources is described below.
2.1 Brief historic overview
Before we dive in to the diversity of existing models, we take a step back and see at how innovation
process models developed over time. The mental model that people have of innovation has not been the
same over time. The main reason for this change is the change in the environment in which innovation
takes place (Rothwell 1994). This is further explained in table 1, where an overview of three authors is
Innovation management; a literature review of innovation process models and their implications
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The table is largely self explicatory, but a general tendency is that the innovation management models
have become more complex, more interdisciplinary, more integrated and more connected with their
surroundings - more links between organisations. It is important to note however, that it is not always
better to pursue a later model; all models are still used today and in the right place (Verloop 2004,
Rothwell 1994, Jacobs and Snijders (2008).
Verloop (2004)
Rothwell (1994)
Jacobs and Snijders
Trial-and-error approach
Discovery of fire or
discovery of America
Scientific curiosity driven
model (industrial)
Entrepreneurial laboratories
(about 1865)
BASF, GE, Bell Labs
Scientific curiosity driven
model (industrial)
Technology Push (50s -Mid
Focus on result;
introduction of project
planning, coupled to
business targets (about
Science discovers,
technology provides, man
conforms (logo of the 1932
Chicago World’s Fair)
Opportunity-driven bridge-
building model (post
Market Pull (Mid 60s - Early
Focus on result;
introduction of project
planning, coupled to
business targets (about
Fordism, Mass production
Opportunity-driven bridge-
building model (post
The “Coupling” Model (Early
70s - Mid 80s
Technology management in
context of financial risks,
strategical planning and
technological roadmaps
(late 80s)
Propelled by scarcity; oil
crises, financial crises
Opportunity-driven bridge-
building model (post
Integrated innovation
process model (early 80s -
early 90s)
Technology management in
context of financial risks,
strategical planning and
technological roadmaps
(late 80s)
Japanese reverse
engineering and
Opportunity-driven bridge-
building model (post
Integrated, parallel, flexible
and connected model (90s -
Emphasis on learning and
interaction with the market
to satisfy existing and
latent market demands
(mid 90s)
Huge global networking
Table 1. Historic overview of innovation management models
2.2 The models
It is interesting to analyse a number of characteristics when discussing the different models, to better
understand the differences and similarities. First of all, to underline the broad range of background, this
paper covers, the source of the model is explicated. Second, it is determined whether the model had an
empirical underpinning, if it was based on prior theoretical research, or both. Also, the main type, novelty
and sector of the innovation is determined.
The models are found in Management books and scientific journals. Through the help of scientific search
engines in combination with searching further in references 1
There are 12 models included from various sources. This include management literature, policy papers as
well as scientific handbooks (See table 2). Three of the models were developed some time ago, but have
proofed so influential, that leaving them out would mean a significant hiatus in this paper (Rogers 1962,
Cooper 1986, Rothwell 1994).
The other models are roughly all from the last decade and include both private (e.g. Verloop 2004,
Andrew and Sirkin 2006, Van der Ven et al. 1999) and public models (Mulgan and Albury 2003) and
authors who include both (Tidd and Bessant 2005, Hansen and Birkinshaw 2007, Jacobs and Snijder
2008, Nooteboom 2001).
Some more recent authors have based their models for some parts on prior authors, but over time, more
empirical studies have improved and changed the models considerably. Noteworthy authors such as Van
Innovation management; a literature review of innovation process models and their implications
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de Ven and Poole, have based their book Innovation Journey (1999) on an extensive empirical study
(1990). Similarly, Rothwell (1994) based his work on earlier work by himself and colleagues of the
seventies (1974). And Andrew et al. (2007) served as major empirical underpinning for Andrews and
Sirkin book (2008).
Mainly based
vs. Radical
Cooper and
Van der Ven
et al. (1999)
Mulgan and
and O
Tidd et al.
Andrew and
Sirkin (2006)
Hansen and
Jacobs and
Book; Free
Journal of
Recent theory
and practise
Both, but
Fairly large
with an own
and a distinc-
tive senior
Considering it
was just after
recession, this
was probably a
period of
Prior research
Not explicitly
stated, but
tendency to
Fairly large
Book; Oxford
Not explicitly
stated, but
tendency to
Book; Oxford
Private and
Large and
Both turbulent
and stable
UK Strategy
Unit paper
Prior research
+ some case
Both turbulent
and stable
Book; Elsevier
Both turbulent
and stable
Model based
on theory,
verified in
Portfolio of
Mainly focused
on next
tech; turbulent
Book; Wiley
and Sons
Empirical and
Both steady
state as well
Private and
Large and
Both turbulent
and stable
Book; Harvard
School Press
and empirical
Not very
explicit, but
leaning more
Based on
experience of
the authors
Not very
explicit, but
leaning more
Over a decade
time; both
turbulent and
and empirical
that most
Private and
Both large and
focussed on
stable times
Table 2. Characteristics of the models
The type of innovation differs considerably among the models. Most of the innovation process models are
largely based on (1) radical (2) products and processes in the (3) private sector (Cooper and
Kleinschmidt 1986, Cormican and O Sullivan 2004, Verloop 2004, Andrew and Sirkin 2006). But, in
modern economies in which services are getting more important, other types of innovations (incremental
and/or services) are considered as well (Tidd and Bessant 2005, Jacobs and Snijder 2008), though still
with less attention. Also, innovation in the public sector is still less represented (Mulgan and Albury
Innovation management; a literature review of innovation process models and their implications
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2.3 Phases
All models distinguish certain phases, stages, components, building blocks, or main activities (See table
3). In this paper we use the word “phases”. One similarity is that they all imply - or even explicitly state -
that there is some order in these phases, though not necessarily linear. As Hartley (2006) argues, stages
are helpful for conceptualising the innovation process and determining where drivers and barriers can
The stage-gate process, introduced by Cooper (1968), has the most distinctive and orderly phases. He
more or less prescribes that the next phase can only start, if the project complied with all the
requirements prior one. This is not only useful to determine if the project should proceed or not, but also
to keep track of possible new occurrences during the process.
While in management, this linear approach can be clear and useful, other authors argue that it is a too
simplistic view of the process (Tidd and Bessant 2005, Mulgan and Albury 2003). They also use a phased
model, but acknowledge that many feedback-loops and cycles take place before proceeding through the
What is interesting, though, is that for example Tidd and Bessant (2005) and Jacobs and Snijder (2008)
adopt the stage-gate model of Cooper in the implementation phase of their model. This means that
during the first phases of idea generation and selection, the phases are less linear and have more
feedback loops, while in the later phases, a more formal and rigid process is used.
Van der
Ven et al.
and Albury
and O
Tidd and
and Sirkin
and Birkin-
Jacobs and
ment and
Build the
design and
Plan project
and select
The trailing
of promi-
sing ideas
t and
project and
Testing and
and sales
tation /
for launch
tation plan
selection /
and scaling
and re-
Table 3. Phases, stages, components, or main activities of the innovation process
So which phases can be observed? Below the phases of the 12 models are summarised. This is done by
including a phase if more than 2 authors consider it to be a phase, stage, component, etc. The phases
Innovation management; a literature review of innovation process models and their implications
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defined below are going to be used throughout the paper for clearness. However, it is noted, that it is not
the only way to define the phases.
All models start with some form of idea generation or searching for ideas for innovation. Some authors
emphasise the opening up of possibilities (Nooteboom 2001, Mulgan and Albury 2003, Jacobs and
Snijders 2008). Van der Ven et al. (1999) argue that this is considered to be divergent behaviour.
The next step is for a majority of authors to narrow the options down, to make a decision, and to select
which projects are pursued and which are not pursued (Rogers 1962, Nooteboom 2001, Tidd and Bessant
2005, Jacobs and Snijders 2008). This selection should be based on both the organisational strategy and
on the existing portfolio of projects to spread risks. At this point it has to be judged if the innovation is
potentially lucrative enough (Andrews and Sirkin 2006) or if it is going to increase public value enough
(Moore 1995).
The next step is to turn the (selected) idea into some tangible product, process or service. This sub-
process is differently described by almost all authors, but words such as development (Cooper and
Kleinschmidt 1986, Van der Ven et al. 1999 and Verloop 2004), prototyping (Mulgan and Albury 2003),
manufacturing (Rothwell 1994) and realisation (Andrews and Sirkin 2006, Jacobs and Snijder 2008) are
used. For clearness, in this paper we name this phase development and testing. Generally the innovation
is tested in this phase, although some authors introduce an extra phase for this in their model. Generally
this is the phase in which considerably more resources are appointed to the project. In Van der Ven et al.
(1999) words, this is convergent behaviour.
The fourth general step is the one in which the newly developed product, process or service is going to be
implemented in “the real world”. This phase is called implementation/launch. It entails the preparing of
customers and marketing activities. Most authors stop here with their innovation process.
However, some authors (Rogers 1962, Nooteboom 2001, Mulgan and Albury 2003, Tidd and Bessant
2005 and Jacobs and Snijders 2008) include a post launch phase. This entails the sustaining and
supporting of the innovation or even re-innovating it and scaling it up.
At last, Mulgan and Albury (2003), Tidd and Bessant (2005) and Jacobs and Snijders (2008), include a
phase for explicit learning. Not only learning about the innovation itself, but also about how the
innovation process went. The obvious purpose is to not make the same mistakes in a future project.
Although most authors (and practitioners) recognise the importance of this phase, it is rarely done in a
structured way (Tidd and Bessant 2005).
2.5 Main contextual factors
Besides these innovation phases, there are several authors that see the innovation process not in a
vacuum, but include some contextual factors. Authors that explicitly treat these contextual factors are
Rothwell (1994), Van der Ven (1999), Mulgan and Albury (2003), Cormican and O Sullivan (2004), Tidd
and Bessant (2005) and Jacobs and Snijder (2008).
The variation in how these factors are described is larger than when considering the phases, above. To
illustrate this, they range from organisational characters to societal factors, and from influenceable
factors to external factors. Also, while some authors describe these factors extensively (Van der Ven et
al. 1999, Tidd and Bessant 2005), others treat them superficially (Mulgan and Albury 2003).
Innovation management; a literature review of innovation process models and their implications
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Van der Ven
et al. (1999)
Mulgan and
Albury (2003)
Cormican and
O Sullivan
Tidd and
Jacobs and
and visible
support for
(faster, more
to legitimise,
regulate, and
standardise a
The strategic
context for the
Strategic profile
strategy with
focus on quality
and other non-
price factors.
to legitimise,
regulate, and
standardise a
of the
commitment to
major projects
Emphasis on
flexibility and
endowments of
basic scientific
Culture and
The links of the
with its
Feedback about
development of
the innovation
and learning
flexibility and
to change.
Customer focus
at the forefront
of strategy.
development of
education, and
Planning and
acceptance of
integration with
research and
production, and
functions by
firms to
the innovation
for profit
Structure and
Strategies for
research and
production, and
functions by
firms to
the innovation
for profit
Electronic data
Policy of total
quality control.
Table 4. Main contextual components, subroutines, organisational influences, strategy elements
The factors are analysed and for as far as possible, summarised. Main components that are used are:
Strategy (Yellow)
Culture (Green)
Leadership (Red)
Organisational structure (Blue)
Resources/Skills (Purple)
(links with) outside the organisation (Light blue)
3 Routines and tools
Above, I have elaborated on models of innovation processes and their phases of innovation processes
and about the contextual factors. Although some phases are named in an active way (e.g. search or
launch), in general the models are rather abstract and descriptive. This third section is therefore about
how to fill these abstract phases and contextual factors with more practical activities. These activities,
being of major importance for the innovation process, are sometimes called key activities. Other authors
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use the word ‘routines’ (Tidd and Bessant 2005 and Jacobs and Snijders 2008), because these activities
are to be institutionalised into the organisation. In this paper, the word routines is used.
By providing an overview of these management routines, the second research question is answered.
3.1 The routines
Not all models include this step of defining these routines. An overview of the authors that do can be
found in the appendix. As we can see in this table, the variation of routines and activities becomes
extensive (more than 150 routines).
The way in which authors enlist them is also more diverse than with the phases. For example, while
Cooper and Kleinschmidt (1986) list a relatively short set of 13 routines, Cormican and O Sullivan present
an extensive checklist of 50 factors that need to be taken care of.
Under the different phases and contextual factors there are several routines that are suggested by
several authors, and others by only one. There is a great variety in activities and routines. See the
appendix for the complete lists. To have a better overview, the colours are referring to the type of routine
as described below. For more information about specific routines, i have to direct you to the original
sources, since this fall outside the scope of this paper.
For idea generation, four main type of routines come back. These are (1) market studies, (2) technical
studies, (3) mobilising ideas from inside the organisation to generate ideas (encourage people to come
up with ideas and share them; making cross-functional teams to increase interdisciplinary ideas) and (4)
involving people from outside the organisation (either lead users, creative people, society in general,
other countries/firms).
Considerably less routines are associated with the phase of selection. The main routines here are (1) to
analyse the options in terms of market potential and feasibility. And then the choice is made based on
the strategic direction of the company and the portfolio of existing projects or products (2).
For developing and testing there are many and diverse routines suggested. Examples for (0)
development are cross-sectional team working, finding the best people, creating incubating places for
development, concurrent working, early involvement of users, focus and commitment and it-support and
design tools. For testing (0) authors distinguish generally in-house testing and external testing as main
Implementation and launch (0) can be implemented by using the following routines. It has to be noted
that this phase does not comprise many activities related to the innovation process. In most cases it is
more a logistic task. The only routines suggested are pre-launch market exploration, production start-up,
focus and commitment and marketing activities.
Post-launch activities (0) are only included in a few models. The models that do include them suggest
routines like assigning idea evangelists, re-development, and supporting a supportive infrastructure.
Finally, to implement learning (0), all authors treating this phase emphasise the need for real numbers,
preferably real time, in evaluations.
Routines that can not be placed under one particular phase are related to contextual factors. However,
there are several routines that could have been placed both under a phase and a contextual factor. In
these cases, they are only listed under the phase classification, above.
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Most of the remaining routines are are placed under the following contextual factors: Strategy (0) Culture
(0) Leadership (0) Organisational structure (0) (links with) outside the organisation (0) or provisions of
resources (0).
Idea generation
and Testing
Away-days; give
people time away
to come up with
new ideas.
SWOT analysis to
strategic position
Operating tests:
tests to check the
reliability of the
product under
real-life working
A detailed
financial analysis,
involving a return
or profitability
Designate “idea
Value Analysis
Quality Function
analyse how to
deliver value to
the customer
Risk Assessment
Let users try the
product and let
them give
Trade literature,
trade shows, and
trade advertising
but no special
promotion or
training for the
sales force.
Organise places
‘collaboratives’ in
the health service
or Talking Heads
(school heads)
Review of
Rapid prototyping
technologies and
use alfa, beta
gamma versions
of products
Invite artists or
Payback period
and/or break-
even analysis
Try out different
apply a stage-
gate model
Build cross-unit
Create safe
Table 5. An interesting grasp of available tools
3.2 Innovation management tools
As we have seen, starting with some relatively simple models, we ended up with a broad variety of
routines that can help managers to incorporate the innovation process in their organisation. The tasks for
managers became more practical with every step (from model to phases and contextual factors to
routines), but most routines are still too abstract (for example the routine of “making a choice based on
the strategic direction of the company and the portfolio of existing projects or products” or “involving
Therefore, some authors have proposed practical tools. These tools are the practical application of the
routines in the case these routines are too abstract. Also, the same tools can be used for several
routines. Brainstorming, for example, can both be an excellent tool for idea generation as well as
evaluation. So can conferences and other gatherings be excellent places for idea generation but also for
the diffusion of innovation (post-launch).
These tools are incorporated in the overview (for the extensive list, see the appendix). An interesting
(but rather random) grasp of tools is listed in table 5 above.
4 Characteristics of innovation
Up until now the focus of this paper was on creating a broad overview of possible activities to manage
the innovation process. This overview has resulted in a many routines and management tools. It is
Innovation management; a literature review of innovation process models and their implications
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obvious that no organisation is capable of implementing all these activities into all innovation projects.
The overview also suggests that this is not necessary. This section is about the practical use of the above
identified routines and tools. It will trie to cover what is know about when to use which routines or tools
and to what extent.
As we have seen in the introductory paragraphs of this paper, there is quite some differences between
innovations. This raises the question if some routines and activities are more useful for specific
innovations. For example, are selection routines different for small organisations compared to large ones?
Or are implementation routines different in an rapidly changing environment compared to a more static
environment? This is treated in paragraph 4.1. Afterwards, paragraph 4.2 is about the actual using of
routines and tools. To what extent should they be applied?
4.1 When to use which routines and tools?
In the literature that was studied, only very few comments were
made about which routines should be used in which situations.
Generally, authors argue that not necessarily all routines should be
used but an organisation is able to make a selection of the proposed
routines. The proposed routines are merely an overview what has
been found in practice to work well.
An exception is the book by Tidd and Bessant (2005) that proposes
some routines and tools do deal with increased uncertainty when
developing more radical innovations and when dealing with a
dynamic climate. Box 3 shows some of these adapted routines for
this situation as opposed to the normal “steady state” situation.
They emphasise for example in the idea generation phase that
organisations should keep an extra eye open for weak but
interesting signals and keep an antennae out for early technological
Another example of differentiated routines is given by Jacobs and
Snijders (2008) but in this case for differences in organisation type.
They distinguish two groups where the first has a significant design,
R&D or innovation department and the second not. Although not the
same, this is similar to the division between product versus service
innovation. Their findings are first of all that the organisations with
R&D department pay considerable more attention to structure while
organisations without pay more attention to intuition during the
innovation process. Another finding is that, while all organisations
are considered to be top-innovative, the organisation fulfilled the
routines differently (See box 4).
Unfortunately, no other mentionable differences were directly put
forward by authors on the issue of when to use which routines or
To find out if there are other patterns I have compared the models and routines that were found in
literature. This could only be done by first defining what kind of innovation the authors wrote about when
proposing their sets of innovation management models and routines (the result of this was already
presented in table 2 in chapter 2, where the dimensions of innovation were included). Second, the
Box 3. Routines for disruptive times
- Picking up and amplifying signals
- Using multiple and alternative
- Using a technology antennae for
picking up early signals
- Legitimate challenging the
dominant vision
- Develop a parallel structure or an
alternative track for ideas that lie
outside the mainstream
- Building and relying more on an
extensive network
- Participate in risk-sharing strategic
research programmes
- Use a dual structure or separate
organisation to exploit radical new
- See the project as a main stream
project but adopt more flexibility
and entrepreneurship
Box 4. Product vs. service
Organisations from the first group
(all commercial firms) scored better
on the proposed routines. Significant
differences were in the following
three routines:
- Strategy/business model
- Re-development
- Learning from real figures
It seems that for a private
organisation involved in product
innovation these routines are more
important than for organisations
involved with services.
Innovation management; a literature review of innovation process models and their implications
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models and sets of routines are compared between the different pieces of literature. So for example, the
literature considering product innovation (e.g. Cooper and Kleinschmidt 1986) are compared with the
models and routines of literature considering service innovation (Jacobs and Snijders 2008). Similarly,
models and routines about private innovation (e.g. Hansen and Birkinshaw 2007) is compared with
models and routines about innovation in public organisations (Mulgan and Albury 2003).
The result is somewhat disappointing. Only few noteworthy observations could be made. And even these
observations could easily be the result of chance or by other not-included factors. The reason for this is
that there are only 12 sources and even more combinations possible with all 5 dimensions of innovation.
Therefore, these relations cannot be analysed with any significant outcome.
Nonetheless an attempt is done. First the models are analysed of which the results are presented in table
Innovation type
Organisation type
Organisation size
The launch phase is
the last phase
Services (7)
Less attention to the
launch phase. More
attention in the
younger models
Incremental (5)
Quiet a “full” model
with most phases
included. The
younger the models,
the more attention
to incremental
Radical (10)
Almost all models
include radical
Public (4)
Strong emphasis on
later stages and no
attention to launch.
Relatively little
attention to public
Private (10)
Almost all models
include private
sector innovation
Large (11)
All models include
large organisations.
Small (3)
Considerably little
attention to small
organisations. No
further conclusions
can be drawn in the
relation between the
model and the
organisation being
Turbulent (9)
Most models are
about economic
times or sectors in
which there is a high
degree of
uncertainty and thus
a more turbulent
Stable (9)
Also, most models
consider stable
times. Noteworthy is
that especially the
later models include
stable times as well.
Table 6. Differences between models explained based on dimensions of innovation
Concerning the difference in sector, an interesting observation is that in general models that consider
public sector innovation assign more attention to the later phases in the model (see table 3). This is
understandable, because for a typical firm, the later phases (diffusion, sustaining) are largely business as
An other observation is that the models are becoming more complete. Where in the older models the
emphasis was on radical, product innovation in large firms and turbulent environments. More attention is
put towards incremental and service innovation in small and public organisations in more stable
Analysing the routines and tools is even more problematic. Although some differences could be observed
(e.g. routines such as technological forecasting are more found in literature explicitly treating product
innovation and routines such as market research are more found in literature that explicitly treats private
innovation as opposed to public sector innovation), no significant results can be drawn.
4.2 Using routines and tools
While some authors argue that poor performance in one routine can be compensated by the other
(Jacobs and Snijders 2008), most other authors stipulate that all routines need to be balanced and well
taken care of (Tidd and Bessant 2005, Morton and Birkinshaw 2007, Cormican and O Sullivan).
Innovation management; a literature review of innovation process models and their implications
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An interesting contribution is how Prud’homme van Reine and Dankbaar (2009) emphasise that all
routines (and especially concerning culture) should not be seen as having a linear relation with innovation
success (i.e. more of the routine means more innovation). They argue that the relation is rather parabolic
in which there has to be found a dynamic equilibrium. Also Jacobs and Snijder try to illustrate this same
point with their notion of contradicting truths (“Januswijsheden”; e.g. organise central guidance vs.
stimulate self-organisation).
In general, for many routines it is unclear to what extent the activity needs to be pursued. For example,
Mulgan and Albury (2003) suggest “breaking the rules” as an activity for generating possibilities, but
obviously, not all rules need to be broken for innovation. Also, sometimes the recipe for innovation can
seem to be contradicting Jacobs and Snijders (2008) argue that “an open culture” is important, but at the
same time advocate “focus”.
6. Discussion and Conclusion
There are a couple of points of discussion before this paper can be concluded.
First of all it has to be noted that the literature search for relevant models of innovation processes has
been extensive, but not very structured. With a high probability, it can be said that most relevant
literature was reviewed, but an second search or expert panel need to confirm that.
Second, an extensive overview of models, routines and tools is created. This overview has kept the
original terminology of the authors for authenticity. This resulted in a very rich database, but varied in
terms of terminology. To make further steps with this overview, some general terminology has to be
used for clearness. When this is done, the overlap and underlying differences become clearer. This will be
a task for further research.
In that same line, the overview is extensive, but not very easy in its use. Some sort of database could
make the information more accessible and thereby useful.
Last point of discussion is the analysis of possible differences between the sets of routines and tools when
considering the various characteristics of innovations. Although some insight was acquired during the
literature study, this part is still very thin. This is mainly the result of a lack of current research, but is
also because this paper mainly and first of all set out to create the overview and secondary looked into
this third research question. Further research might explore this terrain more thorough.
That being said, it is time to return to the research questions.
1. What innovation process models exist in literature?
2. What management routines and management tools can be extracted from literature that stimulate
the innovation process?
3. What further implications for the practical use of innovation management routines and tools can be
found in literature?
All questions have been answered in the form of tables, overviews or the appendix. Summarising, it was
found that all models had some kind of phases with some order in them. Main summarising phases are:
idea generation, selection, developing and prototyping, implementing/launch, post-launch and learning/
Innovation management; a literature review of innovation process models and their implications
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The majority of the sources included contextual components in their model of the innovation process.
These were: strategy, culture, leadership, organisational structure, resources/skills and links with outside
the organisation.
Moving beyond the phases and contextual factors, more than 150 routines or activities were distilled from
literature. At the same time, quite some overlap was found and for each phase or contextual some main
themes were identified.
Where routines were still quite abstract, management tools were found adding to the database. These
tools can be used in different phases and for satisfying different routines.
Furthermore I found that the models that are described in theory are becoming more elaborate over
time. This holds first of all for the number of phases, including more and more post-launch activities. But
also in terms of the types of innovations that are considered literature is becoming more complete; not
only radical, technical innovations in the private sector, but also more incremental and service
innovations and innovations in the public sector.
Concerning the relation between characteristics of innovation and management routines and tools the
following can be said. First of all, existing literature is not explicit on which management routines and
tools should be used in which situations. Two minor exceptions are the boxes 3 and 4 in section 4.
Finally a discussion remains about the extent to which routines and tools should be implemented. How
much of an routine is sufficient to stimulate innovation?
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