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Innovative path dependence: Making sense of product and service innovation in path dependent innovation processes

Titel{Innovative path dependence: Making sense of product and service innovation in path dependent innovation processes}
Publication TypeJournal Article
Jahr der Veröffentlichung2010
AutorenThrane, S., S. Blaabjerg, and R. H. Mø ller
JournalResearch Policy
Typ des ArtikelsJournal article
SchlüsselwörterBWL, Innovation, Innovationsprozess

This paper analyses path dependence and path creation in firm innovation focusing on the effect of cognitive frames and organisational processes. A Northern European medical device firm is analysed through a detailed assessment of the structural and processual elements of cognitive path dependence. Cognitive schemas are analysed through development of ideal typical views on innovation and through an investigation of two specific innovation projects. Drawing on sensemaking and actor network theory the paper adds to the literature in three respects. First, it provides a more systematic analysis than available in the existing literature of how cognitive frames enable and constrain firm innovation. Second, it presents an empirical analysis that contributes to a differentiation of the concept of path dependence, distinguishing between innovative path dependence and technological path dependence. Third, the paper analyses the timing of constraints and path dependence. In the cases studied the innovation approach frames the innovation problem and constraints in relation to technologies have an impact on the innovation processes later, after new technologies have been thoroughly researched. The paper illustrates how the case firm is cognitively locked into an innovation path focused on generating ever-new product versions on different technological platforms, regardless of cannibalisation among the firm's different product versions. Despite the cognitive lock-in to an innovation path the firm is unconstrained in its choice of technological platforms and paths. Firms’ innovation processes may thus simultaneously be characterised by unrestrained search processes and myopic behaviour.

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