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Opening Up the Solution Space: The Role of Analogical Thinking for Breakthrough Product Innovation

abstract The purpose of this paper is to investigate the approach of analogical thinking for product innovation. We collected data of projects from four engineering firms where analogical thinking was successfully applied for the development of breakthrough innovations. Results show that abstracting the problem by in-depth technical and contextual analysis is pivotal when searching for analogical solutions. Furthermore, chances for the identification of highly novel analogous solutions are increased if the problem is abstracted to the level of its structural similarities to other settings. We also found that the identification of structural similarities is supported when firms not only rely on the cognitive abilities of the individual but employ an active search based on abstract search terms. Based on these insights, we propose a process model for the develop-ment of product innovations by means of analogical thinking.
   
type journal paper
   
keywords innovation, cognitive abilities, analogical thinking
   
project CrossNovation
language English
kind of paper journal article
date of appearance 8-5-2008
journal Creativity & Innovation Management
publisher Blackwell Publishing
volume of journal 17
number of issue 2
page(s) 97-106
review double-blind review
   
citation Gassmann, O., & Zeschky, M. (2008). Opening Up the Solution Space: The Role of Analogical Thinking for Breakthrough Product Innovation. Creativity & Innovation Management, 17(2), 97-106.