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The dynamics of proximity in multiple-party innovation processes

PublicationArticle (with peer review)
Christina Öberg, Företagandets villkor, Innovation, Nätverk

Abstract

Purpose: Proximity – that is, the closeness of parties – has been increasingly emphasized in studies on innovation networks. The idea of closeness has been discussed in relation to geographic proximity, and has also been referred to as knowledge overlaps and shared understandings between parties. In most of the studies dealing with proximity in relation to innovation networks, a static analysis is pursued. Such an analysis marks how the closeness or distance, often with the conclusion that parties should not be too close or too distant, is measured against innovation outcome at a specific point in time. However, innovation processes would include how parties increasingly converge in their knowledge and understanding, and how they may co-locate their businesses. The purpose of this paper is to discuss proximity in relation to multiple-party innovation processes and their development over time.

Design/methodology/approach: The empirical part of this paper consists of a single case study on an innovation community and its development process. The development of the innovation community over time, whether and how geographic, knowledge and cognitive proximity is affected, and the outcome in terms of number of innovations, their newness (incremental or radical innovation), and variety are discussed in the paper.

Findings: Findings indicate how geographic proximity leads to more knowledge overlaps, while it is not a prerequisite for it. Rather, it is in the commitment processes partly connected to cognitive proximity that knowledge increasingly converges, indifferent to the co-location of parties. The speed of such processes, however, is higher if parties co-locate. The commitment processes lead to an increased number of innovations, while these innovations become more and more similar. To avoid increased overlaps of knowledge and thereby maintain the production of a variety of innovations, interaction needs to occur through the introduction of new parties and the termination of previous interaction patterns. This, however, occurs at the cost of commitment, and the knowledge thereby becomes less developed and used in its capacities.

Originality/value: The paper contributes to previous research through discussing proximity in innovation networks in a processual manner. The link between various proximities and their effect on innovation outcome sheds light on how proximity, as discussed in various literature streams, often relates to similar issues that converge around the issue of commitment.

Öberg, C. (2018). The dynamics of proximity in multiple-party innovation processes. IMP Journal, 12(2), 296-312. DOI: 10.1108/IMP-05-2017-0020

Based on content

Spin-in and spin-out for growth – On the acquisition and divestiture of high-tech firms
Article (with peer review)Publication
Öberg, C.
Publication year

2021

Abstract

Purpose: This paper describes and discusses company spin-ins and spin-outs as a means to understand company growth in a dynamic context. The following question is asked: How can growth be understood in spin-ins and spin-outs of innovative firms? The paper suggests return on capabilities as a measure to understand growth in an open innovation context.

Design/methodology/approach: The empirical part of the paper consists of a single case study. Data was captured through interviews and secondary data sources.

Findings: The paper points to that resources alone do not explain strategic decisions by a company and how spin-ins and spin-outs result from the need for capabilities, changes in business foci and temporary solutions to deal with overcapacities or lack of alternatives.

Originality/value: The paper contributes to research by discussing contemporary issues in strategy and innovation and relating them to the resource-based view and the growth of the firm. Spin-outs, and acquisitions and divestitures as interlinked events have rarely been focused on in the literature, while they remain frequent phenomena in practice.

Open marketing – Conceptualizing external parties’ strategic marketing activities
Article (with peer review)Publication
Öberg, C.
Publication year

2020

Abstract

Open marketing as conceptualized in this paper refers to how external parties take part in strategic, integrative marketing activities. To distinguish this more recent trend in marketing from traditional meanings of marketing, the paper provides a typology on roles and role keepers in marketing. Four types of roles and role keepers are outlined: marketing as 1) solely being performed by actors in the supplier company communicating offerings, 2) an activity shared among functions of the supplier company, 3) external parties communicating offerings, and 4) external parties contributing to strategic marketing. Using the concept of ‘roles’ in marketing helps to structure activities and actors – or roles and role keepers – and provides a basis for understanding that marketing results from what is done, not merely from who performs it. The paper underlines how new ways of conducting business also have implications for a company’s marketing beyond its borders.

Disruptive and paradoxical roles in the sharing economies
Article (with peer review)Publication
Öberg, C.
Publication year

2021

Abstract

The sharing economy could be said to disrupt who does what in exchanges. This paper categorises the roles played by users, providers, and platforms in different interpretations of the sharing economy. It asks: What different roles do the users, providers, and platforms play in the sharing economy? And: How do the roles differ in various interpretations of the sharing economy? The paper classifies the different interpretations based on their market/non-market logic and concludes that roles are more extensive for users and providers in non-market logic interpretations, while market logic suggests that the platform acts more roles. The user is, despite the peer-to-peer connotation of the sharing economy, often quite passive. Contributions are made to the emerging literature on the sharing economy through highlighting its many different interpretations, where roles help to systematise these. The paper furthermore contributes to the literature on roles through highlighting them as transitory and expanding beyond expectations related to digitalisation. Practically, the systematisation of roles helps to navigate among various business model designs and makes informed decisions when launching platforms in the sharing economy. Additionally, the focus on roles raises important questions on risk sharing, resource provisions, and the creation of value for each participating party.

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