Organizing for radical product innovation: The overlooked role of willingness to cannibalize

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Authors: R. K. Chandy, G. J. Tellis

Publication Year: 1998


Journal: Journal of Marketing Research

Volume: 35

Issue: 4

Categories: Innovation, Radical innovation, Technical Innovation


Why are some firms more successful at introducing radical product innovations than others? Following Schumpeter (1942), many researchers have suggested that firm size is the key organizational pre- dictor of radical product innovation. The authors provide an alternate view and argue that one key variable that differentiates firms with strong radi- cal product innovation records from others is the firms' willingness to can- nibalize their own investments. The authors identify three organizational factors that drive a firm's willingness to cannibalize. Results from a sur- vey of three high-tech industries tend to support the alternate view that willingness to cannibalize is a more powerful driver of radical product innovation than firm size is. These results suggest a need to reconsider conventional wisdom on firm size, cannibalization, and organisational synergy.