Expanding understanding of the innovation process: R&D and non-R&D innovation
Lee, You Na
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Innovation is widely recognized as a key to economic growth. Most research on the innovation process has focused on the results of R&D projects. The positive relation between R&D intensity as an input and innovative performance as an output has become the canonical image for research on innovation. While R&D is an important input to innovation, there is growing evidence that a significant share of innovation is not born from R&D. Much of this non-R&D innovation consists of incremental improvements to existing products, or process innovations, although non-R&D innovation is not limited to these kinds of improvements. Non-R&D innovations can also come from problem solving activities or pursuit of new product ideas outside of a formal R&D project. Such activities would be missed in innovation accounts based on regular, formal R&D. Given the importance of innovation for the sociology and economics of science, and the central role of innovation in policy debates, this study expands the study of innovation to include non-R&D innovations and analyzes the drivers and outcomes of non-R&D compared to R&D-based innovations, with the goal of improving science and innovation policy by: examining the concept of innovation from different theoretical perspectives (Chapter 2), creating new measures and improving understanding of existing measures (Chapter 3), developing new models of the innovation process based on knowledge and learning that expand beyond the existing emphasis on R&D inputs (Chapter 4), and different participation of R&D and non-R&D innovations in markets for technology (Chapter 5). The main results show that the relative effectiveness of learning by R&D and non-R&D for innovation is contingent on nature of knowledge, characterized by generality (i.e., high mobility/transferability) and visibility (i.e., tighter links between actions and outcomes), and that non-R&D inventions are less likely to engage in the licensing market, but are more likely to have exclusivity clauses than R&D inventions. The study concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for management of innovation and innovation policy.