Strategic Management of Technological Innovation

Melissa Schilling

Chapter 3

Honda and Hybrid Electric Vehicles
• Honda had an established record of developing environmentally-friendly cars and manufacturing processes. • Introduced its first hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) in Japan in 1997.

• Honda chose a different hybrid engine design than Toyota.

– HEVs have increased fuel efficiency and decreased emissions – HEVs do not have to be plugged into an electrical outlet – Honda chose not to collaborate or license its technology to others – wanted to maintain its independence.

• Toyota, which engaged in both collaboration and licensing, sold almost three times as many HEVs. • Honda was also developing fuel-cell vehicles at the same time, though they would take much longer to commercialize.
Types & Patterns of Innovation


Honda and Hybrid Electric Vehicles
Discussion Questions:
1. Are hybrid electrical vehicles a radical innovation or an

incremental innovation? Are they competence enhancing or competence destroying, and from whose perspective? How would you answer these questions for fuel-cell vehicles? 2. What factors do you think will influence the rate at which hybrid electric vehicles are adopted by consumers? 3. What would be the advantages or disadvantages of Honda and Toyota using the same engine standard? 4. Is Honda’s strategy of producing a different engine standard than Toyota and not collaborating or licensing to other automakers a good one? What would you recommend? 5. Why do you think Honda simultaneously developed both hybrid vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles?
Types & Patterns of Innovation


by end of 2002 was the largest supplier of mobile telecommunications systems in the world. Types & Patterns of Innovation 4 . founded as a telegraph repair shop in 1876. • In late 1990s. By end of 1990s. Ericsson began focusing on 3G systems. • Telecom leaders began to set their sights on 3G phones that would utilize broadband channels. • First generation of cell phones had been analog. Second generation (2G) was digital.Ericsson’s Gamble on 3G Wireless • Ericsson. enabling videoconferencing and high-speed web surfing. sales of 2G phones were beginning to decline. and put less effort on developing and promoting its 2G systems.

Ericsson’s Gamble on 3G Wireless • Ericsson experienced a significant erosion in profits • Transition to 3G turned out to be more complex than expected – In 2001.4% to -8.5% – Pace of rollout slowed by lack of affordable 3G handsets and competing 3G network standards – Billions of euros spend on upgrading networks and purchasing licenses from government auctions – Companies now very deep in debt which caused loss of investor support – Users did not value 3G features as much as hoped 5 Types & Patterns of Innovation . ROA went from 8. lost more than $2 billion.

– Many consistent patterns have been observed in technology trajectories. • The path a technology follows through time is termed its technology trajectory.Overview • Several dimensions are used to categorize innovations. helping us understand how technologies improve and are diffused. Types & Patterns of Innovation 6 . users. and regulators. – These dimensions help clarify how different innovations offer different opportunities (and pose different demands) on producers.

Types & Patterns of Innovation 7 . • Improving the effectiveness or efficiency of production – reducing defect rates.Types of Innovation • Product vs Process Innovation – Product innovations are embodied in the outputs of an organization – its goods or services. such as in techniques of producing or marketing goods or services. • Ericsson’s development of 3G wireless networks and network services – Process innovations are innovations in the way an organization conducts its business. increasing quantity produced in a given time – Product innovations can enable process innovations and vice versa.

Process Innovation • New processes may enable the production of new products – A new metallurgical technique enabled the development of the bicycle chain which in turn enabled the development of multiple-gear bicycles • New products may enable the development of new processes – The development of advanced workstations enabled the implementation of computer-aided-manufacturing processes that increase the speed and efficiency of production • What is a product innovation for one organization might be a process innovation for another – UPS created a new distribution service (product innovation) that enables its customers to distribute their goods more widely or more easily (process innovation) Types & Patterns of Innovation 8 .Product vs.

• Radicalness is also defined in terms of risk – 3G wireless technology required • Investment in new networking equipment and infrastructure • Development of new phones greater display and memeory capabilities as well as a stronger battery and/or better power utilization • Degree of user acceptance of the technology was unknown Types & Patterns of Innovation 9 .Types of Innovation • Radical vs Incremental Innovation – The radicalness of an innovation is the degree to which it is new and different from previously existing products and processes.

– The radicalness of an innovation is relative.Types of Innovation • Radical vs Incremental Innovation – Incremental innovations may involve only a minor change from (or adjustment to) existing practices. Types & Patterns of Innovation 10 . it may change over time or with respect to different observers. • digital photography a more radical innovation for Kodak (chemical photography expertise) than for Sony (electronics expertise).

• Electronic calculators rendered Keuffel & Esser’s slide rule expertise obsolete. – Competence-destroying innovations renders a firm’s existing competencies obsolete. Types & Patterns of Innovation 11 . – Whether an innovation is competence enhancing or competence destroying depends on the perspective of a particular firm.Types of Innovation • Competence-Enhancing vs Competence-Destroying Innovation – Competence-enhancing innovations build on the firm’s existing knowledge base • Intel’s Pentium 4 built on the technology for Pentium III. • HP and TI thrived as they had existing competencies in the electronic components needed in electronic calculators.

Types of Innovation • Architectural vs Component Innovation – A component innovation (or modular innovation) entails changes to one or more components of a product system without significantly affecting the overall design. • adding gel-filled material to a bicycle seat – An architectural innovation entails changing the overall design of the system or the way components interact. the bicycle took on a whole new design – Most architectural innovations require changes in the underlying components also. gears did not exist yet – When gears and chains were invented. the front wheel of a bicycle has a very large circumference in order to provide speed. – In the 1800s. • transition from high-wheel bicycle to safety bicycle. Types & Patterns of Innovation 12 .

• Safety issue: because the rider sat so high above the center of gravity. and the rider was dropped unceremoniously on his head.The High Wheel Bicycle • In 1870 the first all metal machine appeared. The pedals were still attached directly to the front wheel. – The front wheels became larger and larger as makers realized that the larger the wheel. the farther you could travel with one rotation of the pedals. Solid rubber tires and the long spokes of the large front wheel provided a much smoother ride than its predecessor. Types & Patterns of Innovation 13 . the entire apparatus rotated forward on its front axle. if the front wheel was stopped by a stone or rut in the road.

• They were safer than the high-wheelers but lacked the long. with speed provided through the use of gears instead of large wheels. • The design with two wheels of the same size returned. a few years later.The Hard-Tired Safety • Improvements in the metals used in the bicycle. when Dr. – Buyers had to choose between safety and comfort until. Dunlop developed the pneumatic tire for his child’s bike. enabled the manufacturing of small chains and sprockets and were light enough for a human being to power. shock-absorbing spokes of the high-wheelers. Types & Patterns of Innovation 14 .

Technology S-Curves • Both the rate of a technology’s improvement. Then tapers off as approaches limits. and its rate of diffusion to the market typically follow an s-shaped curve. • Plot technology’s performance against the amount of effort and money invested in the technology S-curves in Technological Improvement Technology improves slowly at first because it is poorly understood. Then accelerates as understanding increases. Types & Patterns of Innovation 15 .

the resulting s-curve can obscure the true relationship Types & Patterns of Innovation 16 .Technology S-Curves • S-curves in technology performance and market diffusion are related – better performance faster adoption – greater adoption  further investment in improvements • But they are fundamentally different processes • If the effort invested is not constant over time.

cofounder of Intel. Gordon Moore. noted that the density of transistors on integrated circuits had doubled every year since the IC was invented –The rate has since slowed to doubling every 18 months but the rate of acceleration is still very steep Types & Patterns of Innovation 17 .Technology S-Curves • In 1985.

Improvements in Intel's Transistor Density Over Time • In 1985. Gordon Moore. noted that the density of transistors on integrated circuits had doubled every year since the IC was invented – The rate has since slowed to doubling every 18 months but the rate of acceleration is still very steep Types & Patterns of Innovation 18 . cofounder of Intel.

Intel’s R&D dollars per year has also been increasing rapidly – The big gains in transistor density have come at a big cost in terms of effort invested Transistor Density versus Cumulative R&D Expenses Types & Patterns of Innovation 19 .• However.

– Firms may be reluctant to adopt new technology because performance improvement is initially slow and costly.Technology S-Curves • Technologies do not always get to reach their limits – May be displaced by new.g. first automobiles were much slower than horse-drawn carriages.. – E. and they may have significant investment in incumbent technology Types & Patterns of Innovation 20 . discontinuous technology. switch from carbon copying to photocopying.g. – E.. or vinyl records to compact discs • Technological discontinuity may initially have lower performance than incumbent technology. • A discontinuous technology fulfills a similar market need by means of an entirely new knowledge base.

Discontinuous Technology • If the returns to effort invested in new technology are much higher than effort invested in the incumbent technology. in the long-run it is more likely to displace the incumbent technology Disruptive technology has a steeper s-curve Disruptive technology has an s-curve that increases to a higher performance limit P e r f o r m a n c e Incumbent technology New technology P e r f o r m a n c e Incumbent technology New technology Effort Types & Patterns of Innovation Effort 21 .

– Eventually market is saturated and rate of new adoptions declines.g. – It accelerates as technology becomes better understood. cameras not valuable without film). – Technology diffusion tends to take far longer than information diffusion. • Technology may require acquiring complex knowledge or experience.. Types & Patterns of Innovation 22 .Technology S-Curves • S-Curves in Technology Diffusion (spread of technology through a population) – Adoption is initially slow because the technology is unfamiliar. electric lights didn’t become practical until development of bulbs and vacuum pumps. • Technology may require complementary resources to make it valuable (e.

Technology S-Curves • S-curves of diffusion are in part a function of scurves in technology improvement – Learning curve leads to price drops. which accelerate diffusion Types & Patterns of Innovation 23 .

– Firms that follow s-curve model too closely could end up switching technologies too soon or too late. – True limits of technology may be unknown – Shape of s-curve can be influenced by changes in the market. • While mapping the technology’s s-curve is useful for gaining a deeper understanding of its rate of improvement or limits.S-Curves as a Prescriptive Tool • Managers can use data on investment and performance of their own technologies or data on overall industry investment and technology performance to map s-curve. Types & Patterns of Innovation 24 . its use as a prescriptive tool is limited. component technologies. or complementary technologies.

Types & Patterns of Innovation 25 .S-Curves as a Prescriptive Tool • The benefits a company can achieve by switching to a new technology depends on a number of factors – Advantages of the new technology – New technology’s fit with the company’s current abilities – New technology’s fit with the firm’s position in complementary resources – lacks them or may make compatible products – Expected rate of diffusion of the new technology • Firms that follow s-curve model too closely could end up switching technologies too soon or too late.

but they interact frequently with their peers. Rogers created a typology of adopters: – Innovators are the first 2. – Early Majority are the next 34%. Types & Patterns of Innovation 26 . and have great potential for opinion leadership. Other potential adopters look to early adopters for information and advice. They are adventurous.5% of individuals to adopt an innovation. comfortable with a high degree of complexity and uncertainty. – Early Adopters are the next 13. They are typically not opinion leaders. – Late Majority are the next 34%. They are highly skeptical of innovations and innovators. They approach innovation with a skeptical air. They adopt innovations slightly before the average member of a social system. They may have scarce resources. They base their decisions primarily on past experience and possess almost no opinion leadership.Diffusion of Innovation & Adopter Categories • Everett M. and typically have access to substantial financial resources. – Laggards are the last 16%. and must feel certain that a new innovation will not fail prior to adopting it.5% to adopt the innovation. thus early adopters make excellent "missionaries" for new products or processes. and may not adopt the innovation until they feel pressure from their peers. They are well integrated into their social system.

Diffusion of Innovation & Adopter Categories Types & Patterns of Innovation 27 .

This market was coined “segment zero” by Andy Grove. former CEO of Intel Types & Patterns of Innovation 28 . Mass market begins to feel they are paying for features they don’t need. it can become a breeding ground for powerful competitors. .Technology Trajectories and “Segment Zero” • Technologies often improve faster than customer requirements demand • This enables low-end technologies to eventually meet the needs of the mass market. if the low-end market is neglected. • Thus.

if the low-end market is neglected. as the technology curve advanced. • Thus. – The “segment zero” that Intel focused on was low-end personal computers – It’s margins were unattractive at the beginning but. it can become a breeding ground for powerful competitors. the needs of the mass market were met at a lower price than the high-end technology Types & Patterns of Innovation 29 .Technology Trajectories and “Segment Zero” • Technologies often improve faster than – customer requirements demand and/or – customers can learn and adapt them to their work • This enables low-end technologies to eventually meet the needs of the mass market.

the specific phase begins (when firms focus on incremental improvements to the design and manufacturing efficiency).Technology Cycles • Technological change tends to be cyclical: – Each new s-curve ushers in an initial period of turbulence. then diminishing returns. firms experiment with different product designs in this phase) • After a dominant design emerges (bringing a stable architecture to the technology). and ultimately is displaced by a new technological discontinuity. Types & Patterns of Innovation 30 . followed by rapid improvement. – Utterback and Abernathy characterized the technology cycle into two phases: • The fluid phase (when there is considerable uncertainty about the technology and its market.

Technology Cycles – Anderson and Tushman also found that technological change proceeded cyclically. ushering in an era of incremental change. Types & Patterns of Innovation 31 . • Each discontinuity inaugurates a period of turbulence and uncertainty (era of ferment) until a dominant design is selected.

It bundled the features that would meet the needs of the majority of the market. – During the era of incremental change.Technology Cycles –Anderson and Tushman found that: • A dominant design always rose to command the majority of market share unless the next discontinuity arrived too early. • The dominant design was never in the same form as the original discontinuity. Types & Patterns of Innovation 32 . firms often cease to invest in learning about alternative designs and instead focus on developing competencies related to the dominant design. but was also not on the leading edge of technology. – This explains in part why incumbent firms may have difficulty recognizing and reacting to a discontinuous technology.

How would you characterize it on the dimensions described at the beginning of the chapter? 4.Discussion Questions 1. What are some of the reasons that both technology improvement and technology diffusion exhibit sshaped curves? Types & Patterns of Innovation 33 . What are some of the reasons that established firms might resist the adoption of a new technology? 2. Are well-established firms or new entrants more likely to a) develop and/or b) adopt new technologies? What are some reasons for your choice? 3. Think of an example of an innovation you have studied at work or school.

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