Though there is a lack of consensus on what exactly constitutes innovation and how it is distinct from creativity, the integrative definition given by Anderson et al. (2014) seems to be closest to what would be generally agreeable. They delineate between an idea generation stage and an idea implementation stage with creativity research mostly concerned with the first stage and innovation concerned either with the second or with both stages. However, this clear delineation is not always apparent; for instance, it is rare that an idea can be communicated unless it takes on some tangible form, that is, it is implemented to some extent as a prototype or at least elaborated to make it easy to communicate. Similarly, it is rare for an idea which is novel to be implemented without recourse to further idea generation as the novelty of the idea itself implies that its implementation might not be straightforward. There is recognition that the innovation process is messy and involves forward, backward, and side steps (Anderson et al., 2014, p. 1299). Some scholars differentiate between creativity and innovation by arguing that creativity is the first step of innovation resulting in novel and useful ideas which when implemented result in innovation (Amabile, 1996a; Scott & Bruce, 1994). However, at the individual level of analysis, Sarooghi, Libaers, and Burkemper (2015) have found both to be highly correlated. Efforts by Janssen (2000) to distinguish between idea generation and its realization at the individual level have also not been supported in their analysis. For our purposes, we consider creativity and innovation to be related to a large extent and at the level of the individual and team when the implementation is encompassed within the boundary of the level being considered, the difference is irrelevant. In fact, since Wallas’s (1926) early model of the creative process, all psychological models of the creative process have included some degree of idea elaboration, evaluation, and implementation within them. This is very similar to the stages that have been proposed for innovation discussed below (Mainemelis et al., 2015).
We do however consider pure implementation as an innovative behaviour as long as the idea is new to the unit under research. Hence, even if an idea has been promulgated elsewhere, its first implementation within a unit can still be considered an innovation (Anderson et al., 2004).