Purpose - Increased developments in competition, globalisation and technology have led to an increased emphasis on innovation in organisations and academia. There is a substantial body of knowledge in regard to the concept of innovation. However, there is a need to make a distinction between innovation and the implementation of innovation in organisations. The study of innovation implementation is much less defined in regard to theory and practice. The aim of this paper is to develop a theoretical conception of innovation implementation primarily based on a critique of the literature. The development is intended to inform further research and enable organisations to develop pathways for effective implementation. Design/methodology/approach - A conceptual and integrated framework is developed from the literature. The constructs of normalising, legitimising and conflict are used to develop the theory. Findings - It is shown how conflict or abrasion is a key element of innovation implementation in attempting to overcome normalising and legitimising organisational forces. Moreover, it is contended that conflict can be used to assess innovation implementation. Originality/value - There is a paucity of theory building at multiple levels within organisations in relation to innovation implementation.