Predictors of the Survival of Innovations

T. B. ASTEBRO, J. Michela

Journal of Product Innovation Management

Juillet 2005, vol. 22, n°4, pp.322-335

Departments: Strategy & Business Policy, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Canadian Innovation Centre, Inventor's Assistance Program, Survival, Nascent entrepreneurs, Product performance, R&D, Seed firms, Cluster analysis, Innovations, Inventions, Inventors, Market entry, Product development

This article examines the impact of key success factors on the survival of innovations that have reached the market and were developed by inventors outside of established organizations. It is of interest to learn which characteristics predict, at an early stage, the duration of the innovation's length of sales, because this duration is important to the financial success of new products. A focus on survival also can contribute conceptual clarity to the study of new product development. This study uses the Inventor's Assistance Program (IAP) at the Canadian Innovation Centre (CIC) in Waterloo, Canada, as the source of data. The CIC is a not-for-profit agency that provides various services to foster business development involving innovative products and services. Analysts in the IAP evaluate a specific product idea or invention on 37 dimensions before it has reached the market. The data for the present study involved these 37 variables evaluated each with a three-point linguistic scale. As the evaluations of the criteria are subjective, they might be argued to contain inaccuracies compared to objective data. On the other hand, the analysts use multiple related measures of concepts that have been shown to increase predictive accuracy. The use of experts who are unrelated to the projects avoids decision-making biases potentially associated with project managers' assessment of their own projects, such as unrealistic optimism. The recording of the expert evaluations of the ideas before they reached the market and independent of the measure of success, rather than using post-project completion evaluations, eliminates measurement biases such as hindsight bias and common method variance bias. Identifying information was used in these records to conduct a telephone survey of the inventors. An exploratory method of data analysis is identified and used that distinguishes research-appropriate constructs and their indicators in these data. Cluster analysis was performed, and survival regression correlated cluster scores with survival. Three variables were found to significantly affect survival: anticipated stable demand, price required for profitability, and technical product maturity. In addition, the degree of competition had a marginally significant effect. Because these variables can be assessed at an early stage of an inventions' development, the expected survival time for a specific invention may be computed by entering these assessment values into the described survival model. Then this and other information may be used to compute the expected return of an invention.