This paper poses a critical view on radical innovation (RI) management research and practice. The study investigates how expected RI performance influences firms’ under- standing of their RI capability. RI performance is often based on output measures such as market shares or fiscal return. On the contrary, RI capability building advocates for ex- ploration, learning, and accepting uncertainty. Hence, RI capability building often focuses on the processes of the firms, and not the outcome. Thus, it is argued that the RI capability- building and RI performance expectations are based on different managerial orientations. Coupling a discussion of the literature with case findings from four large international firms, this paper identifies a discrepancy between RI capability-building and RI perfor- mance within literature and practice. This is regarded to be a major contributing factor to RI program failure. This study presents three misunderstandings related to RI research and practice and discusses implications of these findings.