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Revisiting innovation typology: A systemic approach


  • Louis Knuepling

    (Institute of Economic and Cultural Geography, Leibniz University Hannover)

  • Colin Wessendorf

    (Centre for Regional and Innovation Economics, University of Bremen)

  • Stefano Basilico

    (Chair of Microeconomics, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena & Faculty of Economics and Business Studies, University of Bremen)


Innovation studies use labels such as radical or disruptive to qualify innovation according to different concepts. Within the literature, these labels are frequently used interchangeably due to overlaps in their characteristics. These various definitions present challenges when the labels are operationalized in empirical studies. Based on a quantitative analysis of the most common innovation labels' definitions in 532 scientific papers, we find that novelty and impact, predominantly used for empirical operationalization, differentiate only between ordinary and more exceptional innovations. Based on our findings, a differentiation between the impact’s target and the consideration of positive versus negative effects enables better distinction between labels for more 'exceptional' innovations. We extend the existing literature and enable a more precise definition of (single) innovations by providing a novel, more nuanced description of innovations' different characteristics and a further distinction of their effects. Thereby, the relevant decisive aspects will be communicated more accurately.

Suggested Citation

  • Louis Knuepling & Colin Wessendorf & Stefano Basilico, 2022. "Revisiting innovation typology: A systemic approach," Jena Economics Research Papers 2022-002, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2022-002

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    radical; incremental; disruptive; breakthrough; innovation typology;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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