Serial Breakthrough Innovation: The Roles of Separateness, Self-Efficacy, and Idealism

41 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2018

See all articles by Melissa A. Schilling

Melissa A. Schilling

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior

Date Written: December 17, 2017

Abstract

What makes some people spectacularly innovative? Though the existing research in psychology and innovation tells us much about the sources of creativity generally, it falls short in explaining how people like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or Nikola Tesla seem to be so profoundly gifted in generating breakthrough innovations. In this research, I integrate existing research on innovation management and psychology with examples of serial breakthrough innovators to generate a set of arguments about individual characteristics that can increase the likelihood of generating and pursuing breakthrough ideas. I argue that three key characteristics – a sense of separateness, extreme self-efficacy, and idealism – can play interactive roles that enhance both the ability and motivation of an individual to become a serial breakthrough innovator. I illustrate each of these characteristics with stories about (and quotes from) famous serial breakthrough innovators. These characteristics also yield a number of useful implications for nurturing and enabling the breakthrough innovation potential of individuals and organizations more generally.

Keywords: Innovation, Breakthrough, Creativity, Self-Efficacy, Separateness, Idealism, Inventor, Elon Musk, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Dean Kamen, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs

JEL Classification: O31, O32, O33, O34, L26

Suggested Citation

Schilling, Melissa A., Serial Breakthrough Innovation: The Roles of Separateness, Self-Efficacy, and Idealism (December 17, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3190195 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3190195

Melissa A. Schilling (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Department of Management and Organizational Behavior ( email )

40 West Fourth Street
New York, NY 10012
United States
212-998-0249 (Phone)
212-995-4235 (Fax)

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