Student Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA)

Program of Study

Business Administration



First Advisor

Karl R. Lang

Second Advisor

Nanda Kumar


Research in innovation has been widely conducted by academics. However, many of them merely define associations among innovation factors, findings are often contradictory, and research that involves innovation leaders with rich experiences, both successes and failures, is rare. Thus, how to best innovate remains a question among practitioners. This qualitative research is aimed at filling this gap in the literature. To that end, 23 innovation leaders, most of whom founded software companies worth hundreds of millions to billions of dollars, were interviewed with a grounded theory approach using Peter Drucker’s innovation theory as a lens through which to view new theories and develop an innovation framework. As Drucker’s theory is nearly 40 years old and technology has evolved dramatically, examining the extent to which the theory still applies to contemporary innovation management is crucial. Results confirmed six out of Drucker’s 12 innovation principles, two were revised, one was contradicted and three could not be validated due to the lack of data. Beyond largely validating Drucker’s theory, this paper proposes that the environment acts as a mediator in innovation and suggests ways to create the right environmental factors and foster innovation. Finally, this paper refines Drucker’s theory and develops seven novel theoretical propositions to create a more holistic theoretical framework to better understand innovation in the tech space and guide business practitioners.



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