Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Innovation Science - Different Levels of Analysis

There is an academic field emerging to study innovation as a science. I tend to see the study of innovation divided into the following levels of analysis:

Macroeconomic Level – Scientists studying innovation at this level look at innovation’s aggregate effect on an economy. They often study the patent system and relate patent trends to other trends. Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs, and Steel” contains an analysis of innovation at this level.

Microeconomic Level – Other scientists study innovation at the level of firms and industries. Important research at this level concerns Lead User Innovation and Disruption Theory.

Team Level – This involves scientific inquiry into methods of stimulating creativity and collaboration at the work-group level. This includes brainstorming research.

Individual Level – At this level, scientists seek to understand personal attributes of creativity, a component of innovation. Amabile has studied intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation and how it affects creative performance. Another important finding is the theory of Functional Fixedness, an inhibitor to creativity.

Neurological Level – Scientists at this level try to understand the cognitive, psychological, and biochemical pathways that lead to creativity.