Sustainability, Vol. 11, Pages 7105: The Effect of Incremental Innovation and Switching-Over to Architectural Innovation on the Sustainable Performance of Firms: The Case of the NAND Flash Memory Industry (Sustainability)
This paper presents an empirical study that shows the relationship between innovation activities and the sustainable performance of firms in terms of market share and profit. While previous studies of innovation effects have focused on one type of innovation in the industry, such as incremental or radical innovations, the study of both incremental and architectural innovations in the same industry would enrich our understanding of innovation. This study discusses and emphasizes the importance of continuous incremental innovation and how switching over to architectural innovation affects the sustainable performance of firms in the NAND flash memory industry. A systematic content analysis, comparing the changes in market and profit leadership in terms of continuous incremental innovation and an introduction of architectural innovation, was performed, and it was concluded that both continuous incremental innovation and switching-over to architectural innovation positively affects the sustainable market and profit leadership of firms. Additionally, architectural innovation reframes the technological lifecycle in the industry and gives a firm a chance to retain and continue its technological leadership by establishing new dominant designs. This study suggests that continuous incremental innovation is very important for high-tech firms, and firms should consider the option of switching-over to architectural innovation instead of the incremental development of current dominant design when the complexity of technology and market is increased in order to have a sustainable advantage.