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Symmetric assumptions in the theory of disruptive innovation

PublikationArtikel (med peer review)
Christian Sandström, Disruptiva innovationer, Företagandets villkor, Henrik Berglund, Innovation, Mats Magnusson

Sammanfattning

The literature on disruptive innovation has convincingly explained why many established firms encounter problems under conditions of discontinuous change. Incumbents fail to invest in new technologies that are not demanded by their existing customers. This argument is grounded in resource dependency theory and the associated assumption that existing customers control a firm’s internal resource allocation processes. While the problem of disruptive innovation has been convincingly explained, there is still a need for managerial solutions. We argue that a key reason why such solutions are lacking can be found in the asymmetric assumptions made in the original theory of disruptive innovation. Specifically, we identify two related forms of asymmetry. First, the focal (incumbent) firm is treated as a collection of heterogeneous actors with different preferences, incentives and competencies, whereas firms in the surrounding environment are treated as if they contained no such heterogeneity. Second, the theory of disruptive innovation describes incumbents as controlled by their environment, but has failed to recognize that the environment can also be influenced. In this paper we argue that a more symmetric theory of disruptive innovation – i.e. one that treats all similar entities in the same way – opens up for a range of interesting managerial solutions.

Related content: Working Paper No. 203

Sandström, C., Berglund, H. & Magnusson, M. (2014). Symmetric assumptions in the theory of disruptive innovation – Theoretical and Managerial implications. Creativity and Innovation Management, 23(4), 472-483. DOI: 10.1111/caim.12092


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Entreprenörsstaten?
BokPublikation
Wennberg, K., Sandström, C.
Publiceringsår

2022

Publicerat i

Ratio: Stockholm.

Sammanfattning

Västvärlden har upplevt ihållande arbetslöshet och avsaknad av varaktig ekonomisk återhämtning. Vi har sett hur skydd av nationella intressen vuxit fram, liksom välgrundad oro för ekonomisk ojämlikhet och globala miljöproblem.

I denna jordmån har den interventionistiska industripolitiken upplevt en renässans. Mariana Mazzucatos bok The Entrepreneurial State (2011) utgjorde tillsammans med finanskrisen startskottet för alltmer proaktiva ingrepp i ekonomin. Hennes argumentation var spännande och enkel: Staten har varit den främsta aktören bakom innovation och ekonomisk tillväxt: entreprenörer och stora företag har egentligen bara kapitaliserat på dessa satsningar.

I den här skriften granskas dessa idéer. Vårt innehåll är i flera bemärkelser en varning. Storslagna planer för att skapa önskvärda utfall har sällan ett historiskt smickrande facit. Politiken varken kan eller bör försöka satsa på specifika bolag eller teknologier. Resultatet förvränger incitamentsstrukturerna och resulterar i skadlig opportunism.

Third-Generation Innovation Policy: System Transformation or Reinforcing Business as Usual?
BokkapitelPublikation
Bergkvist, J. E., Moodysson, J., & Sandström, C.
Publiceringsår

2022

Publicerat i

Questioning the Entrepreneurial State, 201.

Sammanfattning

There has been a shift in innovation policy in recent years toward more focus on systemic transformation and changed directionality. In this chapter, we describe a collection of challenges that such policies need to address. Based on a review of dominant frameworks regarding socio-technical transitions, we compare these theories with examples of innovation policy in different countries. Systemic transformation across an economy usually requires a process of creative destruction in which new competencies may be required, actors need to be connected in novel ways, and institutions may need to be changed. Our empirical illustrations show that support programs and initiatives across Europe do not always seem to result in such a process, as they include mechanisms favoring large, established firms and universities. These actors have often fine-tuned their activities and capabilities to the existing order, and therefore have few incentives to engage in renewal. As the incumbent actors also control superior financial and relational resources, there is a risk that they captivate innovation policies and thus reinforce established structures rather than contributing to systemic transformation.

Questioning the Entrepreneurial State
BokPublikation
Wennberg, K. & Sandström, C.
Publiceringsår

2022

Publicerat i
Sammanfattning

Western economies are struggling to recover from a decade of Plagued by structural crises, an ongoing pandemic, high unemployment and sluggish growth. As progressively looser monetary and fiscal policies have not helped, both the EU and national governments have increasingly turned towards interventionist industrial policies. Mariana Mazzucato’s The Entrepreneurial State (2011) provided an intellectual justification for these efforts, and consequently gained popularity. The message was clear: in order to get more innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainable development and growth we need more government, not less. In this book, 30 international scholars address the core ideas underpinning the entrepreneurial state. We provide evidence of both historical and recent failures of “green deals” and similar efforts, while also developing novel directions for innovation policy. In many regards, this book is a warning: huge government schemes towards specific, noble outcomes have historically been plagued with failures. In sum, we argue that innovation policy needs to be inverted: instead of being specific and targeted, it needs to be broad and general, focusing on the general conditions for firms to operate. Instead of providing targeted support to certain firms, industries or even technologies, innovation policy needs to constructively deal with barriers to innovation, including the proactive handling of vested interest groups.

The book is open access and can be downloaded here.

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