Strategy as innovation: Exploring the role of innovation in strategic thinking
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonSkjølsvik T, Breunig KJ. Strategy as innovation: Exploring the role of innovation in strategic thinking. Proceedings IFKAD.... 2018
Purpose – Whereas innovation and strategy theory traditionally have been treated as two separate fields of expertise and research, this conceptual paper seeks to explore how these two fields have been interlinked in recent high-level research. Innovation research seeks to explain the process of creating new products and services. On the contrary, strategy research aims to explain how businesses create lasting competitive advantages. During the 1990s and 2000s, strategy scholars gained an increased interest in explaining how organizational capabilities and environmental turbulence are related, increasingly recognizing that it is difficult to retain sustainable competitive advantages, unless market dynamics and business renewal is addressed. Still, innovation activities largely remains outside the strategy theory domain. Therefore, a clear understanding of how strategy theory can be extended with core properties from innovation literature is needed, but still limited. Indeed, current research calls for an improved understanding of the link between strategy and innovation. To establish a systematic integration and analysis we ask: To what degree and how have strategy and innovation been linked in leading management journals? Design/methodology/approach – To establish a systematic integration and analysis we present the results of an extensive literature review of 1268 research articles published in the top strategy and innovation journals during 2007-2017 to address the question: To what degree and how have strategy and innovation been linked in leading management journals? Our analysis reveals that research addressing both strategy and innovation is limited, but highly cited. Moreover, we identify 5 main themes, which in turn reflected 12 subsidiary areas addressed in extant research. These themes give important insight about what has been done and can serve as baseline for future research. Originality/value – The paper builds a foundation for further integration of strategy and innovation theory. The conclusions of the conceptual discussion indicated that fusing core properties of strategy theory with recent ideas from innovation theory is both obtainable, and prudent. The paper presents an overview of existing research and shows that while some work has been done, there is extensive need for further development in most modern economies, where innovation is a key driver of competitive advantage. Practical implications – The paper develops an important theoretical baseline that organizations can use in approaching their innovation efforts. In particular, it shows that the theoretical link between strategy and innovation at the firm level largely is based on business models and disruption. Thus, in order to approach innovation efforts these tools and theories are essential for firms to think about.