Definition of Innovation
(noun) The improvement or redesign of something that already exists, typically referring to a good, service, or process.
Examples of Innovation
- In e-Readers such as the Kindle by Amazon, the “e-ink” technology was an invention, the application as a book reader was in the innovation. The product continues to innovate with longer battery life, more memory, and glare prevention coupled with media streaming capabilities.
- Dyson bagless vacuums; the dual cyclone technology that used centrifugal force to pull out debris was the invention, the innovation was applying it vacuums.
- Google improved upon existing web search engines, but did not invent them. Archie, is considered the first search engine and was debut in 1990.
- Hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius combined petroleum-based engines and batteries, creating hybrid electric vehicles (HEV), eventually leading to fully electric cars such as the Tesla.
- Smart phones combined several existing technologies into one device, starting with personal digital assistants (PDA) and then digital media players.
- Subscription-based businesses of common goods, such as Dollar Shave Club, which send fresh razors to clients once a month. The subscription model and razor existed, the combination and marketing plan was the innovation.
- Water or wrinkle resistant clothes; the new fabric is the invention, the application to business suits or outdoor wear is the innovation.
- IPA Pronunciation
- Syllabification: (in·no·va·tion)
- Plural: innovations
- Innovation and invention are often used interchangeably, however they are different concepts. An innovation improves or uses something in a new way, but an invention is always something new.
- An innovation is a change in something.
- An innovations adds value to existing goods or services, an invention is unprecedented and novel.
- An innovation transforms or updates, an invention creates or discovers.
- Innovations typically confront customs and norms.
- Typically, innovations cannot be patented but inventions can be patented.
- Innovations are different from ideas in that innovations are operationalized and applied in the real world (Cels et al. 2012).
- Numerous types of innovation exist, including:
- component innovation: Improving one part of a system.
- financial innovation: Creating or modifying fiscal instruments.
- product innovation: Creating or improving an existing product to sell.
- process innovation: Making an existing product cheaper.
- religious innovation: Changes in the practice of religious belief.
- Sociologists are interested in the diffusion of innovation across societies, cultures, and nations. Everett M. Rogers (1931–2004) developed diffusion of innovations theory in Diffusion of Innovations (1962) and coined the term early adopter. Called an innovation wave, innovations move from their originating location which are typically highly populated urban areas to other areas. Businesses rely on innovation strategies to market their products and manipulate the innovation wave.
- Discontinuous innovation is introducing an entirely new product to market, such as the original personal computers, and continuous innovation is improving existing products, such as new versions of software. The Internet is challenging traditional notions of innovation waves and the process of innovation.
- Innovation occurs in all realms and sociologists have studied agricultural innovation, economic innovation, organizational innovation, and systems innovation among others.
- Social acceptance is the process of learning about, accepting, and adapting to an innovation.
- An (noun) innovator or (noun) innovationist (verb) innovates by (verb) innovating (adjective) innovational or (adjective) innovatory ideas, products, or methods that (adverb) innovatively exhibit (noun) innovativeness.
- “About 5000 years ago, people developed plow agriculture. By attaching oxen and other large animals to plows, farmers could increase the amount they produced. Again thanks to technological innovation, surpluses grew. With more wealth came still sharper social stratification. Agrarian societies developed religious beliefs justifying steeper inequality. People came to believe that kings and queens ruled by ‘divine right.’ They viewed large landowners as ‘lords.’ Moreover, if you were born a peasant, you and your children were likely to remain peasants. If you were born a lord, you and your children were likely to remain lords. In the vocabulary of modern sociology, we say that stratification in agrarian societies was based more on ascription than achievement” (Brym and Lie 2007:225).
- Word origin of “innovation” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- Chari, Sharad, and Stuart Corbridge, eds. 2008. The Development Reader. London: Routledge.
- Frickel, Scott, and Kelly Moore. 2006. The New Political Sociology of Science: Institutions, Networks, and Power. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
- MacCallum, Diana. 2009. Social Innovation and Territorial Development. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
- Rogers, Everett M. 2005. Diffusion of Innovations. 5th ed. New York: Free Press.
- Rogoff, Barbara. 2003. The Cultural Nature of Human Development. New York: Oxford University Press.
- cultural contact
- social acceptance
Brym, Robert J., and John Lie. 2007. Sociology: Your Compass for a New World. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Cels, Sanderijn, Jorrit De Jong, and Frans Nauta. 2012. Agents of Change: Strategy and Tactics for Social Innovation. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
Ferrante, Joan. 2011a. Seeing Sociology: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Ferrante, Joan. 2011b. Sociology: A Global Perspective. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Ferris, Kerry, and Jill Stein. 2010. The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology. 2nd ed. New York: Norton.
Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.
Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.
Schaefer, Richard. 2013. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Thompson, William E., and Joseph V. Hickey. 2012. Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Tischler, Henry L. 2011. Introduction to Sociology. 10th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “innovation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved August 22, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/innovation/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
innovation. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/innovation/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “innovation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed August 22, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/innovation/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“innovation.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 22 Aug. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/innovation/>.