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Innovation typology in tourism

While in the former section routines have been connected to the topic of knowledge types, in this section I focus on the cumulative processes that take place in organizations and industries. Therefore, several concepts related to technological trajectories are studied in detail.

As Nelson and Winter (1982) proposed in their evolutionary theory, development processes are incremental. Therefore, current conditions of development are influenced by past circumstances. The evolutionary theory recognizes these paths of development as “natural trajectories”. Thus, organizations and industries develop in certain paths through cumulative processes. Nonetheless, development processes are part of complex systems with a high component of uncertainty. Complexity, however, can be reduced if the factors of continuity can be identified.

Organizations do not have objective information about all available innovation possibilities. Indeed, technological change in organizations is conditioned by the technologies used in the past. Besides, knowledge and skills are mainly determined by the geographical and sectoral environment (Pavitt 1984). Technological trajectories in this environment influence innovation performance in organizations.

The topic of technological opportunity is also in relation with the notion of technological trajectories. Cohen (1995) defines technological opportunity as a set of possibilities for transforming research resources into production techniques. Furthermore, he emphasizes that technological opportunity also originates from the contributions of internal and external actors, such as suppliers, customers or research centres. Nevertheless, the connection between technological opportunity and innovation is not systematic. Technological opportunity does not necessarily mean innovation, or at least not as an immediate result. Thus, the transformation of technological opportunities into innovations can be influenced by several factors. The process of development is frequently uncertain. Nevertheless, it is crucial that organizations identify technological opportunities and the possibility to develop them into innovations.

The limits of technological opportunity have been defined as “technological frontier” (Barras 1986). This “technological frontier” can expand in periods of development or it can remain less unchanged in other periods.

Technological opportunity has often been regarded as a phenomenon related to industries (see e.g. Cohen 1995). Indeed, it appears that in some industries the opportunities to innovate are broader than in others. Furthermore, the idea that firms in the same trajectory tend to develop in similar ways, has originated the concept of “technological regimes” (Leiponen and Drejer 2007). Thus, technological regimes have usually been considered industry specific.

Leiponen and Drejer (2007), however, suggest that firms inside these operating environments can follow different modes of innovation. In their opinion, diversity among firms is a determinant of firm performance and situates organization’s specific knowledge as the reason for this differentiation. Moreover, they emphasize that heterogeneity is favourable for interactive learning. They analyse this hypothesis through an empirical study on firms in Finland and Denmark. The results, indeed,


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