How do innovators stay innovative? A longitudinal case analysis

  • Sven Tuzovic, Jochen Wirtz, Loizos Heracleous
  • Journal of Services Marketing, February 2018, Emerald
  • DOI: 10.1108/jsm-02-2017-0052

Understanding the drivers of staying innovative

What is it about?

How can some companies be the innovation leader in their industry over prolonged periods of time, while others cannot? We use a longitudinal case study approach to gain an understanding of what and how Singapore Airlines (SIA), one of the most successful and consistently profitable airlines in the world, sustained service innovation for over 30 years. We explore the long-term institutional foundations and service innovation-related capabilities that enabled SIA to persistently innovate and prevail in a hyper-competitive business environment.

Why is it important?

This study is the first to investigate the drivers of industry-leading sustained service innovation over a prolonged period of time. We identify three key institutional foundations for service innovation: innovation climate, investments in human capital, and resource configurations, which are the basis of four service innovation-related dynamic capabilities: (1) embracing ambidexterity, (2) institutionalizing learning and knowledge integration, (3) orchestrating collaboration, and (4) reinventing customer value. Most importantly, the three institutional foundations and four dynamic capabilities seem to be stable over time. Our findings offer managers a road-map to examine a pathway to sustained service innovation performance.


Dr Sven Tuzovic
Queensland University of Technology

The topic of service innovation has been widely studied in the academic literature. And our literature review shows that prior empirical work has identified a number of dynamic capabilities. But we noticed that these studies are predominantly cross-sectional. Yet, dynamic capabilities co-evolve over time. Our study fills the research gap. We propose a framework that provides a fuller and more integrated view that what is available in the extant literature on what it takes to for an organization to deliver sustained service innovation. I hope that our framework will encourage future research on this important topic.

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The following have contributed to this page: Jochen Wirtz and Dr Sven Tuzovic