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An analysis of technical and commercialization paths for an innovation trajectory

Sharon Purchase (Business School, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia)
Christina Kum (Business School, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia)
Doina Olaru (Business School, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 3 July 2017




The purpose of this study is to investigate sequences of event and the resulting innovation paths and trajectories followed by a university spin-off organization.


A single longitudinal case study methodology was applied to analyze innovation events and paths along the trajectory. Narrative methods were used to analyze actor perceptions on innovation processes/events.


The study categorizes events and paths in two categories, technical and commercialization, and finds that lock-in events matter for convergence of an innovation trajectory. The results indicate that understanding critical events may assist timely interventions in the innovation paths, thus potentially avoiding disruptions of the development of an innovation trajectory. The temporal processes reveal contrasting convergence–divergence patterns in the trajectory, depending on the types of events that occur.

Research limitations/implications

Using a single case data may limit the applicability of the findings, which calls for future research.

Practical implications

Industries could monitor the technical and commercialization paths as a strategy to reduce “vulnerability” of the innovation trajectory and possible negative impacts. Knowledge about the role of the CEO is key for a university spin-off organization.


This study presents a new typology of events and paths, identifies and characterizes lock-in events and shows the relatively fragile dexterity between convergent and divergent paths along an innovation trajectory.



The authors would like to thank the two reviewers and editor for their helpful comments on improving this paper. This research was supported under Australian Research Council’s Discovery Projects funding scheme (project number DP130100570, “Modelling Network Innovation Performance Capability: A Multidisciplinary Approach”).


Purchase, S., Kum, C. and Olaru, D. (2017), "An analysis of technical and commercialization paths for an innovation trajectory", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 6, pp. 848-863.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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