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Radical Innovation

Part 5. Product Innovation and Management

  1. Gina Colarelli O'Connor

Published Online: 15 DEC 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444316568.wiem05003

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

How to Cite

Colarelli O'Connor, G. 2010. Radical Innovation. Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing. 5.

Author Information

  1. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2010


The phenomenon of innovation has been of interest to management and economics scholars since the disciplines came into existence. Joseph Schumpeter described the process of creative destruction, in which innovations developed and commercialized by small firms cannibalized existing businesses of incumbents as early as 1934. Since then, scholars have elaborated this concept and contrasted it with incremental innovation that develops improvements within defined product arenas and targets them toward defined markets. In this article, the nature of radical innovation is explored. Radical innovations are those that create wholly new markets and/or destroy existing ones, based on technological or logistical breakthroughs. The definitions surrounding this phenomenon are first covered, followed by a discussion of its significance for marketing scholars. The current state of scholarly knowledge regarding radical innovation is described at three levels of analysis: the industry level, the firm level, and the project level. The gaps in our knowledge regarding radical innovation and the opportunities for scholarly work in this field are also discussed.


  • radical innovation;
  • breakthrough innovation;
  • technological innovation;
  • disruptive innovation;
  • pioneering innovation