Title: A research retrospective of innovation inception and success: the technology-push, demand-pull question

Authors: Shyam R. Chidamber, Henry B. Kon

Addresses: MIT Sloan School of Management, Room E53-314, 30 Wadsworth Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. ' MIT Sloan School of Management, Room E53-314, 30 Wadsworth Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

Abstract: Innovation researchers have frequently debated whether organizational innovation is driven by market demand or by technological shifts. The market demand school of thought suggests that organizations innovate based on market needs, whereas the technology proponents claim that change in technology is the primary driver of innovation. Collectively, empirical research studies on technological innovation are inconclusive regarding this technology-push, demand-pull (TPDP) debate. Eight key studies relevant to this issue are examined for their methods, implications and caveats, to establish a structured way of interpreting the various results. The philosophical underpinnings of market demand and technology factors as drivers of innovation are also examined. This paper suggests that much of the contention between the demand-pull and technology-push findings is due to different research objectives, definitions and models. The main conclusion is that there exists a clear relationship between the research models used in these studies and the outcomes observed, suggesting that differences in problem statement and research constructs may be causing the apparent incongruity in research findings. Organizational and national policy level issues are also examined in light of the finding that different levels of analysis lead to different results.

Keywords: technology push; demand pull; innovation inception; innovation success; levels of analysis; research models; policy implications; organisational innovation; market demand; technology factors.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.1994.025565

International Journal of Technology Management, 1994 Vol.9 No.1, pp.94 - 112

Available online: 23 May 2009 *

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