RESEARCH BRIEF: Innovation Styles

by Johanna Madrigal, PhD Candidate at Virginia Tech,

Innovation is a key success factor in companies with complex and volatile environments, and many researchers have been interested in demonstrate how the organization process and leadership conduct companies to be successful at innovating (Chandler, Keller, and Lyon, 2000). There is also an increasing attention to understand if individual skills are affecting the innovation process inside the companies which has led to the definition of what is known as innovation styles (Ko, 2008).

An innovation style is defined as how an individual promotes innovation, and are categorized in 4 styles, and two dimensions. The first dimension responds to what stimulates and inspires innovation, which could be facts (details and analysis) or intuition (insights and images). The second dimension responds to the approaching style of the innovation process, which can be focused (well planned and outcome oriented) or broad (perceptive and learning oriented) (Innovation Styles, 2007).Figure 1 shows how innovation styles are related to each dimension.

Figure 1. The innovation styles model (Adapted from Miller, 2007)


Each innovation style stimulates innovative thinking in a unique manner. The innovation styles are listed in Table 1.

Table 1. Innovation styles (Adapted from Miller, 2007)


By raising awareness of the innovation styles of individual, innovation environment can become more open and flexible; also, organizations will be able to select a mix of innovative people based on each solution as required. This focus on selecting the right member of the working team can reduce the amount of time to reach a solution, and increase the productivity of the innovation based teams.


  • Chandler, Gaylen N., Keller, Chalon and Lyon, Douglas W.( 2000), “Unravelling the Determinants and Consequences of an Innovation-Supportive Organizational Culture”,  Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Vol 25 No.1, pp 59-76
  • Innovation Styles (2007), “Innovation Styles”, available at (accessed on Aug 31st, 2011).
  • Ko, Stephen (2008), “Do thinking styles of entrepreneur matter in innovation?” Journal of Global Business and Technology, Vol 4 No2, pp. 24-33.
  • Miller, Debra (2007), “Overview of the four innovation styles”, available at