Understanding the Innovation Process: Innovation in Dynamic Service Industries
In studies of business innovation, the term innovation process is used to describe (i) the array of sources and objectives that culminate in the act of innovation, (ii) the set of market effects that result from innovation, and (iii) the obstacles that firms encounter when pursuing innovation strategies. An examination of the innovation process is thus designed to bring about a more comprehensive understanding of the characteristics that innovative firms share, as well as of those characteristics that set innovators apart from other businesses. The Survey of Innovation, 1996 examined innovation in three dynamic service industries: communications, financial services, and technical business services. This paper explores the principal findings to emerge from the Survey of Innovation, 1996. Two themes are apparent. In the first instance, many elements of the innovation process are common to all the service industries studied, such as an emphasis on product innovation, a strong customer orientation, and a commitment to service quality. Beyond these common elements, however, differences in competitive pressures across these industries serve to engender important differences in innovation strategies. Accordingly, much of what we can ultimately learn about the innovation process occurs at the industry level.
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