Validation of organizational innovation as a creative learning process

Nishant Kumar (Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)
Ali Yakhlef (Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)
Fredrik Nordin (Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Publication date: 1 April 2019



Previous studies on innovation tend to view innovation as consisting of a creative phase of novel and useful ideas, and a non-creative, or at least a less creative phase, as this considered to be the mere implementation and validation of the initially created ideas. In contrast, this paper aims to stress on the significance of the process of validating a new idea as being a creative, learning, exploratory process that shapes the degree of novelty of the innovation as a whole.


In driving this argument, this study deductively builds on a theoretical pre-understanding derived from extant literature related to management innovation and organizational legitimacy, and inductively draws on information gleaned from three in-depth case studies.


The study shows that the validation phase in the innovation process is a creative process, rather than just being a set of activities that relate to the mere execution of the created ideas. Viewing the validation process as an exploratory search for new knowledge, this study establishes a relationship between the form of knowledge mobilized, vertically within an organization or horizontally from outside, and the form of legitimation required. Validation based on internally generated knowledge is effective in terms of achieving pragmatic (efficiency-driven) objectives. Inter-organizational knowledge inflows are associated with cognitive legitimacy – a form of legitimacy that leads to changes in the stakeholders’ beliefs about a the product. In contradistinction, horizontal, socio–cultural inflows of knowledge are likely to improve on the product itself, thereby generating more traction for validation.

Research limitations/implications

This research is based on data collected from three firms only.

Practical implications

The idea developed here can provide business organizations a better understanding of the validation process of management innovations. This study suggests that successful innovation often requires managers to be prepared to seek knowledge beyond the confines of their own organizations.


This study contributes in three ways: it submits that there is a dynamic interplay between the moments of creation and validation, which is largely shaped by the novelty of the mobilized knowledge, depending on whether it is internal top–down or external horizontal; relatedly, the effectiveness of validation is shaped by the novelty of the knowledge garnered to justify the initial ideas; and the present paper has extended Suchman’s (1995) framework by linking the effectiveness of the various forms of legitimacy to the source of knowledge mobilized in the validation process.



The authors would like to offer sincere thanks to the guest editor and the three anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions.


Kumar, N., Yakhlef, A. and Nordin, F. (2019), "Validation of organizational innovation as a creative learning process", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 643-650.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below

You may be able to access this content by logging in via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.
If you think you should have access to this content, click the button to contact our support team.