Innovation trajectories within the support of decisions: Insights about S-curve and dominant design models
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The research about the patterns of technology evolution is populated by descriptive models, explaining quite regular trends of product development processes. The most popular schemes share the idea of long innovation periods characterized by incremental improvements and punctuated by technological turmoil events. Within the engineering field, such pattern can be described by S-shaped curves depicting the growth of performances in charge of technological paradigms, which approach their natural limit after entering their maturity stage. The birth of a novel S-curve symbolizes the emergence of a new breakthrough technology, which is followed by the choice of a preferred paradigm in the industry, generally designated as Dominant Design. However, new exigencies expressed by practitioners have remarked the limitations of qualitative models. Whereas some contributions openly question the general validity of the described models, a remarkable amount of literature claims that certain conditions related to the innovation processes have to be respected to make the outlined frameworks be valid. A deeper understanding about the open issues raised by the paper would result in more conscious innovation practices. Indeed, the exploitation of reliable models pertaining innovation trajectories could result in assessing the advantages arising by introducing new product functions or characteristics, enhancing performances on which industry is currently competing, reengineering manufacturing processes.