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Who initiates and who implements? A multi-stage, multi-agent model of organizational innovation

  • Sun Young Sung (a1), Dong-Sung Cho (a1) and Jin Nam Choi (a2)


Innovation researchers have typically focused on either the adoption or the implementation phase of organizational innovation. In the present study, we propose that four agents of innovation (i.e., top management, external environment, innovation, and employees) play distinct roles in the adoption and implementation stages, and that, together, they predict innovation outcomes. We test the phase-dependent process of organizational innovation using data drawn from intensive interviews with 40 executives of a consumer product company. A path analysis of 94 innovations introduced to the organization over the past 20 years indicates that there is a significant level of stability in innovation-driving dynamics. Particularly, top management and employees tend to remain heavily involved in the implementation of an innovation if they played an important role in adopting it. The four agents of innovation play different roles in accruing benefits from the innovation. The results also suggest that employees tend to produce positive innovation outcomes when they have been involved in the innovation from the very beginning and are thus responsible for its adoption. The present study makes a distinct contribution to the literature by exploring the multi-stage, unfolding processes of organizational innovation.



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