The role of complexity in the Valley of Death and radical innovation performance

Tereza Dean, Haisu Zhang, Yazhen Xiao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Firms invest much of their capital into basic research in order to generate new ideas and technologies. However, converting new technology concepts into marketable products is difficult, and firms struggle with transitioning projects from a knowledge discovery to product development, a gap referred to as the Valley of Death (VoD). While the concept of VoD has been well documented, the literature provides little guidance on how this gap can be overcome within firms and what role broader organizational factors play in this process. Building on the motivation-opportunity-ability (MOA) framework, the authors propose and test a series of hypotheses using a survey of 308 managers. The results indicate that while organizational complexity does not directly impact a firm's application ability (the ability to overcome the VoD), product complexity has a positive effect. In addition, both organizational and product complexity interact with market turbulence in influencing a firm's application ability, and there is an inverted-U shape relationship between application ability and radical innovation performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102160
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


  • Motivation-opportunity-ability framework
  • Organizational complexity
  • Product complexity
  • Radical innovation
  • Valley of Death


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