Antecedents to Radical Innovations: A Longitudinal Look at Firms in Information Technology Industry by Aggregation of Patents

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Exterior sourcing, Patents, Radical innovations, Technology distinctness, Entrepreneurship


Radicalness of innovation is often contingent upon access to technologies whose applications exceed their technological definition (technology distinctness (TD)) and sourcing innovation outside a firm’s focal industry (exterior sourcing (ES)). However, going outside one’s focal industry can be expensive and can lead to inconclusive results. We posit that exterior sourcing and technology distinctness, both have inverse U relationship with radicalness. In addition, we argue that exterior sourcing negatively moderates the relationship between technology distinctness and radicalness such that high technology distinctness, and fewer and focused exterior sourcing will have the strongest relationship with radicalness. To test our assertions, we used patent filings between 1996 and 2009 from the information technology (IT) industry from the standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 database. The empirical evidence supported our claims. Findings suggest that there is an optimum recombination of exterior sourcing and technology distinctness in which radicalness is maximised. We conclude the paper by summarising the key findings, discussing implications for theory and practice, and suggesting avenues for future research.


This article was originally published as Datta, Avimanyu. 2016. Antecedents to Radical Innovations: A longitudinal look at Firms in Information Technology Industry by Aggregation of Patents. International Journal of Innovation Management (Imperial College Press). 20(5)