Innovation Defined: A Survey

48 Pages Posted: 17 May 2013

Date Written: May 16, 2013


This paper focusses on the definition of the word ‘innovation’ as used in scholarly manuscripts (books and articles) about the Innovation. The research was done in 1988, and reported in the Dutch Language in a Research Paper of the University of Eindhoven (The Netherlands). As preparation for a comparable larger study in 2013, the original material is reprocessed, updated and presented here in the English language.

The basis for this analysis is a group of 76 definitions from the period 1952-1988 (and Schumpeter’s definition from 1934). They resulted from a total of 300 manuscripts covering the subject Innovation. This population had been classified according to eight variables that were created from the keywords found in the definitions themselves. Variables like 'Subject', ‘Stimulus’, ‘Moment’, ‘Novelty’, ‘Change’, ‘Object’, ‘Reference’, 'Success’. Of each of the definitions the year, nation and field of origin was registered.

The paper consists out of five segments. In the Prologue we describe why we initiated the survey and the method used for searching for definitions of the word 'Innovation’. In the second part we describe the way we classified the found definitions. In the third part we present our observations for both the individual variables and for the definition profiles. In the fourth part we define and falsify the hypotheses. Finally in the Epilogue we try to reach an overall conclusion about what could be considered the abstract version of a definition. The Addendum gives all the definitions and their citations.

Keywords: product innovation, process innovation, organizational innovation, innovation process, open innovation, sectoral/national innovation, innovation systems, nnovative behavior, innovativeness

JEL Classification: A10, B00, D00, E00, L00, M00, O00, O31, O32

Suggested Citation

van der Kooij, Bouke, Innovation Defined: A Survey (May 16, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Bouke Van der Kooij (Contact Author)

Delft University of Technology ( email )

Stevinweg 1
Stevinweg 1
Delft, 2628 CN

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