Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Mary M. Crossan


Innovation is widely regarded as a critical source of competitive advantage in an increasingly changing environment and thus has attracted considerable attention from both academics and practitioners. Thousands of scholarly papers have been published on the subject of innovation, yet the field remains theoretically fragmented and largely disconnected from the indexes and rankings of the practitioner world.

This thesis attempts to fill this gap through a qualitative research that examines the relationship between espoused and enacted innovation strategies, innovation outcomes and firm performance using a comprehensive practice-based framework o f organizational innovation.

The specific research questions of this study are: How does the congruence between leaders' espoused and enacted innovation strategies (EEIS) relate to innovation outcomes andfirm performance? How do innovation outcomes mediate the relationship between EEIS andfirm performance?

Since a practice-based framework requires a qualitative methodology, a case based design is chosen for this study. Based on the criteria that have been tested by a large innovation survey, a theoretical sample of four firms has been identified for the purpose of this research. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected through archival research, semi-structured interviews, meeting observations and interactive discussion groups (Yin, 1994).


The findings of this research have provided a rich basis for analysis and theorizing and have lent support for the proposed comprehensive model of innovation. The gap between espoused and enacted innovation strategies has resulted in different types of innovation realized at each firm. Although four firms pursued different innovation strategies and had outcomes o f different magnitude, most o f them delivered expected firm performance. This confirms the equifinality of paths to performance, which thus can be achieved though incremental or radical innovation.

This dissertation contributes to academic research by developing a multi­ dimensional framework and a comprehensive model of organizational innovation which will lead to the sustainable innovation outcomes; by developing a taxometry of different combinations of espoused and enacted innovation strategies; exploring the impact of incongruence between them on the short and long term performance, and by demonstrating the equifinality of innovation paths to performance whereby it can be achieved through innovations of different degrees of magnitude (i.e. incremental and radical).



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