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The Flow of Money, Business and Innovation

Forms of Innovation—Strategies for Success-Goals

© 2011 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Will J. Friedman
7 May 1979
Portfolio Item
Doctoral Program
Claremont Graduate School (now University)
 

Forms of Innovation—Strategies for Success-Goals

The purposes of this theoretical paper are two: (1) to clearly, operationally, and rigorously define the range and boundaries of activities which qualify as forms of legitimate and illegitimate innovation aimed at the realization of success goals; and (2) to test these definitions in the light of concrete illustrations of innovations. The eight categories of legitimate and illegitimate innovation aimed at realizing success-goals which are posited (See Table 3) might be employed to specify an individual's "innovation profile" across all eight categories.
 

I. DEFINITIONS

In studying the literature on innovation it appears reasonable to assume that it is "legitimate innovation"—explicitly that which is legitimately called innovation—which is being addressed. The technological innovation and diffusion of innovation literature is embedded within a management, economic, and public/private policy approach. Defining technological innovation as "the first application of science and technology in a new way, with commercial success" (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 1971, p. 11), the literature of technological innovation seems oriented around a better understanding of the innovative system in industry as it is manifest in both product and process innovation. In the diffusion of innovation literature, Rogers and Shoemaker (1971) distinguish an invention from an innovation. While these authors state that an invention is "the process by which new ideas are created or developed" (p. 7), they describe an innovation as follows:

An innovation is an idea, practice, or object perceived as new by an individual. It matters little, so far as human behavior is concerned, whether or not an idea is "objectively" new as measured by the lapse of time since its first use or discovery. It is the perceived or subjective newness of the idea for the individual that determines his reaction to it. If the idea seems new to the individual, it is an innovation.

"New" in an innovative idea need not be simply new knowledge. An innovation might be known by an individual for some time (that is, he is aware of the idea), but he has not yet developed a favorable or unfavorable attitude toward it, nor has he adopted or rejected it. The "newness" aspect of an innovation may be expressed in knowledge, in attitude, or regarding a decision to use it.

Every idea has been an innovation sometime. Any list of innovations must change with the times. Black Panthers, computers, micro-teaching, birth control pills, chemical weed sprays, LSD, heart transplants, and laser beams might still be considered innovative ideas at his writing, but the reader in North America will probably find many of these items adopted or even discontinued at the time of reading. This list also illustrates the great variety of material products, ideological beliefs, social movements, and so on that qualify as innovations (pp. 19, 21)

In essence, Rogers and Shoemaker (1971) specify an innovation quite broadly as any ideas, practices, ideological beliefs, or products which an individual perceives as "new" knowledge, attitude, or in considering a decision to use it as well as not being time—disqualified by its general adoption or discontinuance. Except for the process and personality attributes of innovation, both the technological innovation and diffusion of innovation literature have limited usefulness in terms of human innovative adaptations in social action. Product and process technological innovations will be addressed later in the section on legitimate operative innovation. Nevertheless, with this broad understanding of innovation as setting a necessary background, let us proceed to a more theoretically rigorous delineation of innovation.

From a sociological perspective, Merton (1957) proposed understanding adaptations to normlessness or anomie in society through a means-ends typology which consisted of the individual adaptive modes of conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism, and rebellion (See Table 1).

Table 1

A TYPOLOGY OF MODES OF INDIVIDUAL ADAPTATION


Modes of Adaptation
 
Cultural Goals Institutional Means

I. Conformism

II. Innovation

III. Ritualism

IV. Retreatism

V. Rebellion

+

+

-

-

±

+

-

+

-

±


+ = Acceptance

- = Rejection

± = Rejection of prevailing values and substitution of new values

(Adapted from Merton, 1957, p. 194)
 

These categories refer not to an individual's personality, but rather to role behavior in specific kinds of situations. The mode of adaptation termed innovation is characterized by the acceptance of cultural goals (e.g., success-goals like gaining greater job or personal status, money, material wealth, power, and influence) and the rejection of institutional means (i.e., behavior acceptable to the institution's rules, procedures, and goals).


George Demont Otis     Rainbow Valley

Dubin (1959) transformed Merton's typology (see Table 2) by distinguishing "behavioral innovation" as an acceptance of cultural goals and either the rejection and substitution (active rejection) of both institutional norms and means or the acceptance of one and the active rejection of the other. He concludes that behavioral innovations are "constructive inventions in the institutional settings in which they occur" (p. 150). In contrast, Dubin defines "value innovation" as the rejection and substitution (active rejection) of cultural goals and either the acceptance of both institutional norms and means or the acceptance of one and the active rejection of the other. Further this author states that value innovations are where "new ideas, ideologies, and standards of right and wrong are introduced into the social system" (p. 154).

Table 2

A TYPOLOGY OF DEVIANT ADAPTATIONS IN SOCIAL ACTION


Type Of Deviant Adaptation
Mode Of Attachment To—
  Cultural   Institutional
Goals   Norms     Means  
Behavioral Innovation

Institutional Invention

Normative Invention

Operative Invention
 

+

+

+

±

±

+

±

+

±

Value Innovation

Intellectual Invention

Organizational Invention

Social Movement

±

±

±

+

±

+

+

+

±


+ = Acceptance

- = Rejection

± = Rejection and substitution (Active rejection)

(Adapted from Dubin, 1959, p. 149)
 

Dubin (1959) distinguishes "institutional norms", "the boundaries between prescribed behavior and proscribed behaviors in a particular institutional setting" (p. 149), from "institutional means", "actual behavior of people, the things they do in carrying out functions in the institutional setting in which they are acting" (p. 149). Merton (1959) criticizes Dubin's typology quite correctly as sometimes referring to attitudes toward particular norms and not institutional norms, defined by Merton as "the morally binding expectation of appropriate behavior prevailingly held by those subject to the situation" (p. 178).

More specifically, Dubin (1959) fills out the three forms of "behavioral innovation" as follows: (1) institutional invention comes about "when new standards of legitimacy come to be accepted, governing newly developed or formerly illegitimate behaviors" (p. 150) (e.g., collective bargaining, employer supported or partially supported health and welfare funds for employees); (2) normative invention is characterized by new norms being introduced into an existing institutional setting with the institutional means remaining the same (e.g., hot rodding, changing the norm of authority of management over workers in industry); (3) operating invention is described as the most common form of behavioral innovation, as demonstrating creativity in life routines, and as representing "the fulfillment of the potential behavior patterns possible within the limits established by the institutional norms" (p. 152) (e.g., fashions, fads, group/occupational special jargon, techniques for making and concluding retail sales). In regard to this last category, Dubin notes how some individuals believe they are privately experimenting in socially deviant behavior when, in fact, they are not.

Dubin (1959) perceives "value innovation" as evident in the following three forms: (1) intellectual invention is characterized by an acceptance of institutional norms and means coupled with an active rejection of cultural goals (e.g., the transforming ideas of Copernicus, Pasteur, Einstein, Boole, Freud, and Marx); (2) organizational invention is characterized by the simultaneous replacement of old institutional norms and cultural goals with new ones, thus creating a new organization (e.g., in the military services, the American Air Corps were transformed from an auxiliary unit of ground forces before World War I into an independent armed forces called the United States Air Force thereafter); (3) social movement is characterized by a "search for new cultural goals and modification of existing institutional means" (p. 156) (e.g., women's rights movement, African-American rights movement).
Merton (1959) carefully analyses Dubin's account on more than the distinction between attitudes toward particular norms and institutional norms. He points out how commitment or alienation to a norm can be publically visible or remain private. Moreover he notices how there may be a problem of "appropriateness" in assigning any particular institutional norm for a given action, but refrains from addressing this issue. This objection might be handled by having the individual specify the particular institutional norm at issue for a given action.

Importantly Merton (1959) borrows Kluckholn's (1951, p. 415) distinction between "variant" behavior, defined as new forms of behavior that are institutionally acceptable, and "deviant" behavior, defined as new forms of behavior that are outside those behaviors which are institutionally acceptable (e.g., some of Pasteur's and Einstein's ideas are "variant" rather than "deviant" behaviors).

Instead of a piecemeal closure on definitions of forms of legitimate innovation at this point, it might be wiser to wait until we examine the brief literature indirectly addressing forms of illegitimate innovation with the rationale that the act of defining one might place severe constraints, if not possible distortions, in defining the other.

Cloward (1959) explores Merton's (1957) original typology by raising the issue of illegitimate means in reference to success-goals. In the following footnote Cloward defines illegitimate means:

"Illegitimate means" are those proscribed by the mores. The concept therefore includes "illegal means" as a special case but is not coterminous with illegal behavior, which refers only to the violation of legal norms. In several parts of this paper, I refer to particular forms of deviant behavior which entail violation of the law and there use the more restricted term, "illegal means". But the more general concept of illegitimate means is needed to cover the wider gamut of deviant behavior and to relate the theories under review here to the evolving theory of "legitimacy" in sociology (p. 165).

Further, Cloward (1959) suggests examining illegitimate means as an approach aimed at entending the theory of anomie to theories of deviant behavior in the traditional literature on criminology. He states how this might be productively undertaken through studying differentials in availability of illegitimate means evident in "learning structures" and "opportunity structures." Cloward and Ohlin (1960) make the added suggestion that this strategy could be usefully applied to both illegitimate and legitimate availability of both structures for each individual. I understand "learning structures" as those attributes in the culture's social, civil, and commercial environment which are available, attended to, and modeled from by an individual to realize success-goals. I understand "opportunity structures" as those attributes in the culture's social, civil, and commercial environment that provide the individual opportunities to realize success-goals.

In formulating adequate operative definitions of forms of legitimate and illegitimate innovation with the explicit purpose of constructing a theoretical basis for both realistic empirical testing and applied usefulness, one fundamental assumption with a rationale is postulated: focus should appropriately be on "behavioral innovation" instead of "value innovation" (Dubin, 1959) because of its relatively greater frequency, possible accessibility, and potential verification not only in attitude toward institutional norms and actual institutional norms, but in recording past and/or present behavior.


George Demont Otis     Late Summer County

At this juncture, the initial specification of what constitutes the forms of legitimate and illegitimate innovation appears warranted. Utilizing Merton's (1957) and Dubin's (1959) apparent agreement on success-goals (e.g., gaining greater job or personal status, money, material wealth, power, and influence) as a valid category exemplifying twentieth century American cultural goals along with Dubin's definition of "institutional means", Merton's (1959) definition of "institutional norms" and "attitudes toward institutional norms", and Cloward's (1959) definition of "illegitimate means" all presented earlier, allow the generation of a typology of forms of legitimate and illegitimate innovation (See Table 3) aimed at realizing success-goals. Moreover, following Rogers and Shoemaker (1971), the rejection and substitution (active rejection) of legitimate or illegitimate institutional means or the acceptance of legitimate institutional means for each form of innovation requires only (1) an individual perceives his/her legitimate or illegitimate means as "new" knowledge or "new" regarding a decision to use it and, (2) legitimate or illegitimate institutional means qualifies if it is not time disqualified by its general adoption or general discontinuance. Definitions and illustrations of each form of innovation will follow in the next section. In contrast to Dubin's (1959) typology, it might be noted that each form of innovation is labeled as innovation and not invention since each form when successfully applied is an innovation and not just a "new conceptualization." Furthermore an individual's "innovation profile" might be generated across these eight forms of innovation as a descriptive index of their innovativeness.

Table 3

A TYPOLOGY OF "VARIANT" AND "DEVIANT" ADAPTATIONS IN SOCIAL ACTION


Type of Behavioral
"Variant" Adaptation
(LEGITIMATE INNOVATION=L)
Mode Of Attachment To—
 Cultural   Attitudes Toward  Institutional
Goals Institutional Norms  Norms   Means 
Behavioral Innovation

Institutional Innovation (Ll)

Prescribed Institutional Innovation (L2)

Normative Innovation (L3)

Operative Innovation (L4)

Conscientious Operative Innovation (L5)

+

+

+

+

+

 

±

+

+

+

±

 

±

±

±

+

+

 

±
(Legitimate)
±
(Legitimate)
+
(Legitimate)
±
(Legitimate)
±
(Legitimate)
 

Type of Behavioral
"Deviant" Adaptation
(ILLEGITIMATE INNOVATION=I)
Mode Of Attachment To—
 Cultural   Attitudes Toward  Institutional
Goals Institutional Norms  Norms   Means 
Behavioral Innovation

Institutional Innovation (I1)

 

Operative Innovation (12)

 

Conscientious Operative Innovation ( I3)

+

 

+

 

+

±

 

+

 

-

 

-
(Formally)
- or + or ±
(Informally)
-
(Formally) - or + or ±
(Informally)
-
(Formally)
- or + or ±
(Informally)

±
(Illegal)
 

±
 (Illegitimate) 
 

±
(Illegitimate)


+ = Acceptance

- = Rejection

± = Rejection and substitution (Active rejection)

II. SPECIFIC ILLUSTRATIONS

Each of the forms of behavioral "variant" adaptation ("legitimate innovation") and behavioral "deviant" adaptation ("illegitimate innovation") in social action need to be tested in the crucible of specific paradigmatic cases. If refining and respecification of these definitions is necessary, it is here that it will become apparent.
 

BEHAVIORAL "VARIANT" (LEGITIMATE) INNOVATIONS

Institutional Innovation (Ll). This category is almost synonymous with Dubin's (1959) category of Institutional invention, except for the addition of the active rejection of attitudes toward institutional norms. To repeat, institutional innovation (Ll), such as the development of collective bargaining or employer supported or partially-supported health and welfare funds for employees, are developed when institutional norms, institutional means, and attitudes toward institutional means are actively rejected while cultural success goals are accepted. Heterosexual dyads in the United States in the 1970's "living together" without the "benefit of clergy" (that is, cohabitating without a valid marriage license) would presently qualify as another example illustrating this form of innovation.

Prescribed Institutional Innovation (L2). Innovations in this category are characterized by the fact that there is an active rejection of both institutional norms and means along with an attitude of acceptance toward institutional norms as well as acceptance of cultural success-goals. This form of innovation heralds the coming or developing of new standards of legitimacy while the attitude toward this transformed norm is merely accepted, often possibly with a "wait-and-see" posture, instead of one of active rejection as is typical with institutional innovation (Ll). The introduction and attempted implementation of "New Math," before its general discontinuance, is a good illustration of this form of innovation, albeit one in which a new standard failed to be generally accepted. Another example of this category, which presently seems to qualify in the late 1970's American culture, is the attempted introduction and continuing implementation of metric measurement ("going metric"). Time alone will tell whether or not this innovation will gain general acceptance. Nevertheless, until a decision is formulated, the attitude appears to fit well the description of this category—benign acceptance and let's wait-and-see.

Normative Innovation (L3). This category is almost synonymous with Dubin's (1959) category of normative invention, except for the addition of an attitude of acceptance toward institutional norms. To repeat, normative innovation (L3), such as hot rodding and changing the norm of authority of management over workers in industry, are developed when there is an acceptance of institutional means, an attitude of acceptance toward institutional norms, an active rejection of institutional norms, while cultural success-goals are accepted.

Operative Innovation (L4). This category remains essentially unchanged from Dubin's (1959) specification of operative invention, except for the addition of an attitude of acceptance toward institutional norms. Thus operative innovations (L4) are characterized by the acceptance of cultural success-goals, institutional norms, and in attitude toward institutional norms as well as the active rejection of institutional means. Dubin provides the illustrations of fads and fashions in stylistic gestural behavior, language usage, and in dress along with group and occupational special jargon and the sales techniques employed in making/closing retail sales as examples. It is also in this category that process and product technological innovations fit.

Conscientious Operative Innovation (L5). This "variant" adaptive form is characterized by an acceptance of cultural success-goals and institutional norms with an active rejection of both institutional means and attitudes toward institutional norms. The major difference between this innovative form and operative innovations (L4) appears to be an attitudinal "conscientiousness" reflected by an attitude of active rejection toward institutional norms. One illustration might be master—and doctoral—level graduate students who have an attitude of "getting out of this maze of requirements with my degree" through a rejection of institutional norms of purely scholarly or scientific goals and the substitution of a highly pragmatic or utilitarian attitude. This attitude of active rejection toward institutional norms, coupled with an active rejection of institutional means demonstrated through one or more maximization efforts (e.g., having specific projects qualify as satisfying more than one requirement) clearly fits this category.
 


George Demont Otis     End of a Summer's Day
 

BEHAVIORAL "DEVIANT" (ILLEGITlMATE) INNOVATIONS

Institutional Innovation (II). In Table 3 it will be noted that this type of "deviant" adaptation is characterized by the acceptance of cultural success-goals, an attitude of active rejection toward institutional norms, an active rejection of institutional means through the employment of "illegal means"—not "illegitimate means"—as well as a rejection of institutional norms formally while these are either rejected, accepted, or actively rejected informally. What is unique about this form of illegitimate innovation is both the use of illegal means and an attitude of active rejection toward institutional norms, that is an attitudinal stance of rejecting the dominant institutional norms and substituting what is, in essence, a support system for a different and illegal subculture. This form of illegitimate innovation is most noticeable illustrated in the mainstream literature on deviancy and criminology. This category is represented most strikingly in what has been called "illegal behaviors" (Sutherland & Cressley, 1970), including "white collar crimes" (Sutherland, 1949) when there is an attitude of active rejection toward institutional norms.

Operative Innovation (12). This "deviant" adaptive form of innovation is characterized by the acceptance of cultural success-goals, an attitude of acceptance toward institutional norms (i.e., accepting the cultures' norms as simply "the way it is" or "the way it is supposed to work"), an active rejection of institutional means through the employment of illegitimate means as well as a rejection of institutional norms formally while these norms are again either rejected, accepted, or actively rejected informally. Certain "illegal behaviors", such as "white collar crimes" fit this category when there is an attitude of acceptance toward institutional norms. Cheating by students on exams, procuring copies of previous tests in a specific class before taking the exam, citing original sources from secondary sources without checking those original sources personally, and falsifying job resumes all are clear instances of operative innovations (12). David Geffen, the past president of Electra/Asylum records, related in a commencement speech to MBA's at UCLA Graduate School of Business how he intercepted letters sent to the record company in regard to his background and substituted more favorable replies while he was working in their mailroom! This action would appear to also qualify as belonging in this category.

Conscientious Operative Innovation (I3). Looking again in Table 3 it will be seen that this type of "deviant'·' adaptation is characterized by the acceptance of cultural goals, an attitude of rejection toward institutional norms, an active substitution of institutional means through the use of "illegitimate means" as well as a rejection of institutional norms formally while these norms are, once again, either rejected, accepted, or actively rejected informally. Clearly the attitudinal stance of "conscientiousness" through a rejecting attitude toward institutional norms is what is most distinctive about this form of illegitimate innovation relative to the two previously mentioned forms of illegitimate innovation. Some illustrations that appear to fit this category are Daniel Ellsberg's taking and helping publish the "Watergate Papers)" the civil disobedience of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi in their early efforts, people who refuse to pay United States federal and/or state income tax on ideological grounds, and former FBI and CIA agents who write exposés of their former employers exposing so-called "Top Secrets" in addition to the names and addresses of agency informants and agents.

The five forms of legitimate innovation coupled with the three forms of illegitimate innovation all aimed at realizing success-goals are theoretically specified with the aim that they might be usefully employed in generating an individual's "innovation profile" across all eight categories of innovation. Not only could this "innovation profile" serve as a descriptive index of individual innovativeness, but could further be studied by empirical research as well as serve as an important barometer of applied success in a wide range of scientific and business contexts.
 

References

Cloward, R. A., "Illegitimate means, anomie, and deviant behavior." American Sociological Review, 24, 1959, pages 164-176.

Cloward, R. A. & Ohlin, L. E., Delinquency and opportunity: A theory of delinquent gangs. New York: Free Press, 1960.

Dubin, R., "Deviant behavior and social structure: Continuities in social theory." American Sociological Review, 24, 1959, pages 147-164.

Kluckholn, C., "Values and value-orientations in the theory of action." In Talcott Parson & E. A. Shils (Eds.), Toward a General Theory of Action. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1951.

Merton, R. K., Social theory and social structure. Glencoe, Illinois: Free Press, 1957.

Merton, R. K., "Social conformity, deviation, and opportunity structures: A comment on the contributions of Dubin and Cloward." American Sociological Review, 24, 1959, pages 177-189.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), The Conditions for Success in Technological Innovation. Paris, France: OECD, 1971.T

Rogers, E. M. & Shoemaker, F. F., Communication of Innovations (Second Edition). New York: Free Press, 1971.

Sutherland, E. H., White Collar Crime. San Francisco, California: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1949.

Sutherland, E. H. & Cressey, D. R., Criminology (Eighth Edition). New York: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1970.
 

© 2011 by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
 

 


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