Trajectory Dynamics in Innovation: Developing and Transforming a Mobile Money Service Across Time and Place

Published: 6 October 2021

Authors: E. Oborn, M. Barrett, W. Orlikowski, and Anna Kim

Publication: Organization Science, Volume 30, Issue 5, September-October 2019, Pages 896-1123


This paper examines how and why innovations are reshaped as they become implemented and used in locales that are distant and distinct from those where the innovation was initially developed. Drawing on an in-depth field study of the innovation process that produced a mobile money system for Kenya, we contribute an understanding of the particular dynamics that arise when an innovation trajectory interacts with local trajectories that constitute the local conditions and practices of specific places. We identify four distinct patterns of trajectory dynamics—separation, coordination, diversification, and integration—each of which has different implications for the innovation, its implementation, and consequences on the ground. Developing a model of trajectory dynamics in innovation, we theorize the processes through which innovations are transformed over time as they interact with multiple local trajectories and the specific innovation outcomes that are generated as a result. Such theorizing reconceptualizes traditional notions of innovation diffusion by explicating how and why innovations change in multiple and unexpected ways as they move to particular places and engage with local conditions and practices.

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