Skip to main content
Published Online:pp 100-114

The early stages of the innovation process, the so-called "fuzzy front-end" of innovations, are of particular relevance for the success of innovation projects. Empirical studies were so far only conducted on these stages with respect to incremental innovations. However, both literature and practitioners call for a deeper understanding of radical innovations because of their fundamental need to be managed in a different way than incremental innovations. This contribution presents the results of in-depth case studies of the early stages of the radical innovation process in eight technology-based companies. First, we present the reasons for the increased interest of the companies studied in radical innovations and particularly their early phases. Second, we differentiate between three types of companies in managing the early phases of the radical innovation process: the process-oriented, the culture-oriented and the need-oriented companies. Third, we develop a process model of the early phases of the radical innovation process and discuss the three types and their differences along the model. Finally, we derive managerial implications for the early phases of the radical innovation process.


radical innovation, innovation process, fuzzy front end, early phases of innovation, discontinuous innovation, technological change, product development, technology intelligence, market intelligence, innovation culture