Click here to download

Behavioral Characteristics of Innovators. Evidence from a Lab Experiment
Author/s: Sara Romanò, Tania Parisi, Giulia Bocca, Davide Barrera, Filippo Barbera 
Year:  2021 Issue: Language: Italian 
Pages:  29 Pg. 38-66 FullText PDF:  491 KB
DOI:  10.3280/SO2021-002002
(DOI is like a bar code for intellectual property: to have more infomation:  clicca qui   and here 

Innovation has been receiving increasing attention by researchers, businessmen/women and policy makers. Innovators are often considered as individuals endowed with exceptional characteristics who behave radically different from the rest of the population. This assumption has gradually led to a systematic overlap between the logic of innovation and the logic of excellence. Accordingly, in many contexts few selected individuals receive much of the available resources. However, the association between innovativeness and excellence lacks robust empirical support. This study aims to fill this gap by observing whether innovators actually display unique behavioral characteristics. To this end, we carried out a lab experiment to gauge differences in risk aversion, interpersonal trust, altruism, and egalitarianism between individuals with high innovation potential and individual with moderate or limited innovation potential. According to the literature, risk aversion and interpersonal trust are two key characteristics of innovators, whereas the other two dimensions have been generally overlooked. Results show that, except for risk propensity that is just above the threshold of significance, none of the behavioral measures is higher among high-potential innovators. These results are especially surprising as we selected groups maximizing difference in innovation potential, thereby introducing a conservative bias.
Keywords: Innovation studies; Logic of excellence; Risk aversion; Interpersonal trust; Altruism; Lab Experiments; Hard-to-Survey populations

  1. Akçomak, I. S., Ter Weel, B. (2009), “Social capital, innovation and growth: Evidence from Europe”, European Economic Review, 53(5): 544-567.
  2. Aryee, S., Budhwar, P. S., Chen, Z. X. (2002), “Trust as a mediator of the relationship between organizational justice and work outcomes: Test of a social exchange model”, Journal of Organizational Behavior: The International Journal of Industrial, Occupational and Organizational Psychology and Behavior, 23(3): 267-285.
  3. Barbera, F. (2004), Meccanismi sociali, Bologna, Il mulino.
  4. Barbera, F. (2020), “L’innovazione sociale: aspetti concettuali, problematiche metodologiche e implicazioni per l’agenda della ricerca”, Polis, 35(1): 131-148.
  5. Barbera, F., Parisi, T. (2019), Innovatori sociali. La sindrome di Prometeo nell’Italia che cambia, Bologna, Il mulino.
  6. Barrera, D. (2008), “The social mechanisms of trust”, Sociologica, 2(2):0-0.
  7. Barrera, D., Romanò, S. (2017), “Il metodo sperimentale”, in Barbera F. e Pais I. (a cura di), Manuale di Sociologia Economica, Milano, EGEA.
  8. Berg, N. (2003). “Normative behavioral economics”, The Journal of Socio-Economics, 32(4): 411-427.
  9. Berg, J.E., Dickhaut, J. McCabe, K. (1995), “Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History”, Games and Economic Behavior, 10(1): 122-142.
  10. Buskens, V. e Raub, W. (2013), “Rational choice research on social dilemmas: embeddedness effects on trust”, in Wittek, Snijders e Nee (a cura di), The handbook of rational choice social research, Stanford, Stanford University Press.
  11. Camerer, C. F. (2003), Behavioral Game Theory: experiments in strategic interaction, Princeton, Princeton University Press.
  12. Camerer, C.F., Weigelt, K. (1988), “Experimental Tests of a Sequential Equilibrium Reputation Model”, Econometrica: Journal of the Econometric Society, 56(1): 1-36.
  13. Chester K.M.To, Guaita Martínez, M.J., Orero-Blat, M., Chau, K.P. (2020) “Predicting motivational outcomes in social entrepreneurship: Roles of entrepreneurial self-efficacy and situational fit”, Journal of Business Research, 121: 209-222.
  14. Clegg, C., Unsworth, K., Epitropaki, O., Parker, G. (2002), “Implicating trust in the innovation process”, Journal of occupational and organizational psychology, 5(4): 409-422.
  15. Coleman, J.S. (1990), Foundation of Social Theory, Cambridge, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  16. Cox, J. C. (2004). “How to identify trust and reciprocity”, Games and economic behavior, 46(2), 260-281.
  17. Dasgupta, P. (1988), “Trust as a Commodity”, in Gambetta D. (a cura di) Trust: Making and Breaking Cooperative Relations, Oxford, Blackwel.
  18. Dovey, K. (2009), “The role of trust in innovation”, The Learning Organization, 16(4): 311-325.
  19. Fagerberg, J. (2006), “Innovation: A Guide to the Literature”, in Fagerberg, Mowery (a cura di) The Oxford Handbook of Innovation, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  20. Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Lang, A.-G., Buchner, A. (2007). G*Power 3: A flexible statistical power analysis program for the social, behavioral, and biomedical sciences. Behavior Research Methods, 39, 175-191.
  21. Forsythe, R., Horowitz, J. L., Savin, N. E., Sefton, M. (1994), “Fairness in simple bargaining experiments”, Games and Economic behavior, 6(3): 347-369.
  22. Gambardella, A. (2014), “L’imprenditore innovatore come agente dello sviluppo tecnico, economico e sociale”, Sinergie, Italian Journal of Management, 93: 3-18.
  23. Gambetta, D. (1988), “Can We Trust Trust?”, in Gambetta D. (a cura di) Trust: Making and Breaking Cooperative Relations, New York, Blackwell.
  24. Glaeser, E. L., Laibson, D. I., Scheinkman, J. A., Soutter, C. L. (2000), “Measuring trust”, The quarterly journal of economics, 115(3): 811-846.
  25. Goldthorpe, J. H. (2016), Sociology as a population science, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  26. Hardin, R. (2002), Trust and Trustworthiness, New York, Russell Sage Foundation.
  27. Hauser, C., Tappeiner, G. Walde, J. (2007), “The learning region: the impact of social capital and weak ties on innovation”, Regional studies, 41(1): 75-88.
  28. Hedström, P., Bearman, P. (a cura di) (2009), The Oxford handbook of analytical sociology, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  29. Hedström, P., Swedberg, R. (a cura di) (1998), Social Mechanism: An Analytical Approach to Social Theory, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  30. Henrich, J., R. Boyd, S. Bowles, C. Camerer, E. Fehr, and H. Gintis. (2004) Foundations of Human Sociality: Economic experiments and ethnographic evidence from fifteen small-scale societies. New York: Oxford University Press.
  31. Henrich, J., R. Boyd, S. Bowles, C. Camerer, E. Fehr, H. Gintis, R. McElreath, et al. (2005). “"Economic man" in cross-cultural perspective: Behavioral experiments in 15 small-scale societies.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28(6): 795-855.
  32. Holm, H. J., Danielson, A. (2005), “Tropic trust versus Nordic trust: experimental evidence from Tanzania and Sweden”, The Economic Journal, 115(503): 505-532.
  33. Holt, C. A., Laury, S. K. (2002), “Risk aversion and incentive effects”, American economic review, 92(5): 1644-1655.
  34. Hosmer, L.T. (1994), “Why be moral? A different rationale for managers”, Business Ethics Quarterly, 4(2): 191-204.
  35. Johnson, N. D., Mislin, A. A. (2011), “Trust games: A meta-analysis”, Journal of economic psychology,32(5): 865-889.
  36. Kreps, D.M. (1990), “Corporate Culture and Economic Theory”, in Alt e Shepsle (a cura di) Perspective on Positive Political Economy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  37. Lewis, J. D., Weigert, A. (1985), “Trust as a social reality”, Social forces, 63(4): 967-985.
  38. Luhmann, N. (1988), “Familiarity, Confidence, Trust: Problems and Alternatives”, in Gambetta D. (a cura di) Trust: Making and Breaking Cooperative Relations, Oxford, Blackwell.
  39. Malpas, J., Wickham, G. (1995), “Governance and failure: on the limits of sociology”, The Australian and New Zealand journal of sociology, 31(3): 37-50.
  40. Manzo, G. (a cura di) (2014), Analytical sociology. Actions and networks, WileyBlackwell, Hoboken.
  41. Marciano, C., Brizio, A., Carpaneto, A., Giachino, M., Robiati, A. e Molino, D. (2021) Spiriti Innovativi. Una ricerca empirica sulle caratteristiche personali e sul comportamento lavorativo degli innovatori in Italia. Sociologia del lavoro (3): in press.
  42. Marks, P. E. L. (2017) Introduction to the special issue: 20th-century origins and 21st-century developments of peer nomination methodology, in Marks e Cillessen (a cura di) New Directions in Peer Nomination Methodology. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, Wiley, vol. 158, pp. 7–19.
  43. Martinelli, A. (1994), “Imprenditori”, in Enciclopedia delle Scienze Sociali, Treccani.
  44. Mazzucato, M. (2014), “Costruire lo stato innovatore: Un nuovo quadro per la previsione e la valutazione di politiche economiche che creano (non solo aggiustano) il mercato”, Economia & lavoro, 48(3): 7-24.
  45. McDonald, H., Alpert, F. (2007), “Who are "innovators" and do they matter? A critical review of the evidence supporting the targeting of “innovative” consumers”, Marketing intelligence & planning, 25(5): 421-435.
  46. Meijer, J. (2014), “From Hero-Innovators to Distributed Heroism: An in-depth analysis of the role of individuals in public sector innovation”, Public Management Review, 16(2): 199-216.
  47. Merton, R. (1968), Social Theory and Social Structure, New York, The Free Press (trad. it., Teoria e struttura sociale, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2000).
  48. Messick, D. M., McClintock C. G. (1968), “Motivational Bases of Choice in Experimental Games”, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 4(1): 1-25.
  49. Misztal, B.A. (1996), Trust in Modern Societies, Cambridge, Polity Press.
  50. Parsons, T. (1937), The Structure of Social Action, New York, McGraw-Hill.
  51. Ramella, F. (2016), The Sociology of Economic Innovation, London, Routledge.
  52. Ramella, F. (2017), “The ‘Enterprise of Innovation’ in hard times: corporate culture and performance in Italian high-tech companies”, European Planning Studies, 25(11): 1954-1975.
  53. Raub, W. (2004), “Hostage Posting as a Mechanism of Trust: Binding, Compensation, and Signaling”, Rationality and Society, 16(3): 319-366.
  54. Robinson, S. L. (1996), “Trust and breach of the psychological contract”, Administrative science quarterly, 41(4): 574-599.
  55. Schild, C. J. (2013), Generalized trust and regional innovation activity, Discussion Papers No. 02/2012, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
  56. Schumpeter, J.A. (1911) The Theory of Economic Development: An inquiry into profits, capital, credit, interest and the business cycle, in Harvard Economic Studies, 46.
  57. Snijders, C. (1996), Trust and Commitments, Amsterdam, Thela Thesis.
  58. Stevens J.R., Hauser M.D. (2004) Why be nice? Psychological constraints on the evolution of cooperation. Trends Cognitive Science, 8(2):60-5
  59. Swedberg, R. (a cura di) (2000), Entrepreneurship: The social science view, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
  60. Szabo, S., Ferencz, V., Pucihar, A. (2013), “Trust, innovation and prosperity”, Quality Innovation Prosperity, 17(2): 1-8.
  61. Tourangeau, R., Edwards, B., Johnson, T. P., Wolter, K. M., Bates, N. (a cura di) (2014), Hard-to-survey populations, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  62. Valade, B. (1996), “Cambiamento sociale”, in Boudon (a cura di) (1992) Traité de sociologie, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France; trad. it., Trattato di Sociologia, Bologna, Il Mulino, p. 285-322.
  63. Vojak, B.A., Price, R.L., Griffin A. (2012), “Serial Innovators: How Individuals Create and Deliver Breakthrough Innovations in Mature Firms”, Research Technology Management, 55(6): 42-48.
  64. Williamson, O. E. (1993), “Calculativeness, trust, and economic organization”, The journal of law and economics, 36(1): 453-486.
  65. Zaki, J., Ochsner, K. (2012) The neuroscience of empathy: progress, pitfalls and promise. Nature Neuroscience 15, 675–680.

Sara Romanò, Tania Parisi, Giulia Bocca, Davide Barrera, Filippo Barbera, Behavioral Characteristics of Innovators. Evidence from a Lab Experiment in "STUDI ORGANIZZATIVI " 2/2021, pp. 38-66, DOI:10.3280/SO2021-002002


FrancoAngeli is a member of Publishers International Linking Association a not for profit orgasnization wich runs the CrossRef service, enabing links to and from online scholarly content