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Towards a multidisciplinary definition of innovation

Anahita Baregheh (Bangor University, Bangor, UK)
Jennifer Rowley (Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Sally Sambrook (Bangor University, Bangor, UK)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 4 September 2009




This paper aims to undertake a content analysis of extant definitions of “innovation” as a basis for proposing an integrative definition of organizational “innovation”.


A literature review was used to generate a representative pool of definitions of organizational innovation, including definitions from the different disciplinary literatures of economics, innovation and entrepreneurship, business and management, and technology, science and engineering. A content analysis of these definitions was conducted in order to surface the key attributes mentioned in the definitions, and to profile the descriptors used in relation to each attribute.


The key attributes in the paper present in definitions were identified as: nature of innovation; type of innovation; stages of innovation, social context; means of innovation; and aim of innovation. These attributes are defined, descriptors assigned to them, and both a diagrammatic definition and a textual definition of organizational innovation are proposed.


As a concept that is owned and discussed by many business disciplines, “innovation” has many different definitions that align with the dominant paradigm of the respective disciplines. Building on these diverse definitions, this paper proposes a general and integrative definition of organizational “innovation” that encompasses the different perspectives on, and aspects of, innovation, and captures its essence.



Baregheh, A., Rowley, J. and Sambrook, S. (2009), "Towards a multidisciplinary definition of innovation", Management Decision, Vol. 47 No. 8, pp. 1323-1339.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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