A two-dimensional taxonomy of products and innovations

Aaron J. Shenhar, Dov Dvir, Yechiel Shulman

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36 Scopus citations


The classical literature has often used a low-high distinction between innovations as either incremental or radical. As product innovation is becoming increasingly important to organizational growth, this dichotomized categorization is probably too shy in capturing the diversity of existing trends. Similarly, the design literature has usually distinguished between the product as a whole and the product in its parts; however, here too, no clear hierarchy of products and their parts has evolved. In contrast to these simplistic models managers often emphasize the uniqueness of their product, finding most theoretical literature to be too general and conceptually ineffective. As part of our on-going research on product development and project management, and based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, we use in this paper a two dimensional new taxonomy for the classification of products and innovations. In this framework, we classify innovations according to their initial level of technological uncertainty and products according to their level on a hierarchical ladder of systems and subsystems. This morphological typology exhibits the existence of substantial differences among product characteristics of various kinds and provides a basis for additional theoretical development of product innovations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-200
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Engineering and Technology Management - JET-M
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Innovation
  • Products
  • System scope
  • Technological uncertainty


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