Innovation drift: the influence of digital artefacts on organizing for innovation

Hron, Michal; Obwegeser, Nikolaus; Müller, Sune Dueholm (2021). Innovation drift: the influence of digital artefacts on organizing for innovation Innovation: Organization & Management, 24(1), pp. 168-200. Taylor & Francis 10.1080/14479338.2021.1937185

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The literature on digital innovation often relies on examples of radical, even paradigm-changing novelties. In order to develop such radical innovations, organizational separation of innovation efforts has been advocated by many as an effective strategy. We have conducted a longitudinal case study of a radical innovation project at a born-digital company. The company established a separate organization to develop radical innovation, but over time, the innovation drifted from radical to incremental. Even keeping the organization separate proved difficult. In explaining the events in the case study, we follow the argument that new theories of digital innovation can be developed with reference to the specific properties of digital artefacts. We outline how properties like editability and distributability may contribute to innovation drift, i.e., the proclivity of radical innovation ambitions to gradually drift towards more incremental realizations. Due to their nature, digital artefacts can diffuse through the organization and, thus, pose a challenge to the effectiveness of organizational separation as a strategy for innovation. With this work, we contribute to the literature on digital innovation by responding to calls for research on new theories of digital innovation and the demand for greater appreciation of digital materiality in organizing. We also challenge the prevailing view of digital innovations as radical and aim to open a debate on the possibility and considerations surrounding incremental digital innovations.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


Business School > Institute for Digital Technology Management
Business School


Hron, Michal;
Obwegeser, Nikolaus0000-0003-3404-1989 and
Müller, Sune Dueholm




Taylor & Francis




Nikolaus Obwegeser

Date Deposited:

08 Sep 2021 11:52

Last Modified:

01 May 2022 01:34

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Digital innovation, digital artifacts, organizational structures, case study




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