Anchoring Corporate Innovation Communities in Organizations: A Taxonomy

Anchoring Corporate Innovation Communities in Organizations: A Taxonomy

Bastian Bansemir (Leipzig Graduate School of Management (HHL), Germany), Anne-Katrin Neyer (Fraunhofer MOEZ, Germany) and Kathrin M. Möslein (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and Leipzig Graduate School for Management (HHL), Germany)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/ijkbo.2012010101
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Abstract

Whereas literature in the area of open innovation considerably advances the understanding of innovation community mechanics, little is known about how innovation communities need to be anchored within organizations to unleash the creative potential of employees. To contribute to this discussion, this article focuses on the still understudied link among organizational integration and its influence on innovation activities and outcomes of corporate innovation communities. Additionally, it identifies distinct types of transition strategies to anchor organizational integration of corporate innovation communities. To attain this aim structuration theory is applied. Multiple in-depth case studies allow insights into antecedents of and transition strategies for corporate innovation communities. Results demonstrate that 1) cultural and structural integration are major antecedents for innovation activities and outcomes of corporate innovation communities, and 2) transition strategies offer valuable patterns to alter organizational integration.
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Setting The Stage

Organizations increasingly rely on corporate innovation communities as a means to unleash the innovative potential of their employees (Neyer, Bullinger, & Möslein, 2009; Möslein & Neyer, 2009). These communities are mostly supported by social software and are bound to organizational contexts in which they are integrated (Brown & Duguid, 1991). However, organizational integration of corporate innovation communities as a pre-condition for innovation to occur (Kodama, 2001) often remains limited. Whereas literature in the area of open innovation considerably advances our understanding of innovation community mechanics (Lakhani & von Hippel, 2003; Shah, 2006), little is known about how innovation communities need to be anchored within organizations to unleash the creative potential of employees (Roberts, 2006). First insights can be gained from corporate entrepreneurship literature which studies antecedents of dispersed innovation in the context of corporate entrepreneurial initiatives that occur throughout the organization (Birkinshaw, 1997; Hill & Birkinshaw, 2010). Also, previous research hints to a variety of reasons for failure of corporate innovation communities, ranging from lack of motivation (Fang & Neufeld, 2009; von Krogh, Spaeth, & Lakhani, 2003; Roberts, 2006) to failed knowledge exchange (Bechky, 2003; Peltonen & Lämsä, 2004). To contribute to this discussion, this article focuses on the still understudied link among organizational integration and its influence on innovation activities – i.e., the way employees cooperate in corporate innovation communities – and outcomes – i.e., expressed by the number of innovations generated – of corporate innovation communities. Additionally, it identifies distinct types of transition strategies to anchor organizational integration of corporate innovation communities.

To help facilitate this endeavor we apply structuration theory (Giddens, 1979, 1984; Gregory, 1989; Jarzabkowski, 2008; Jones & Karsten, 2008). This theoretical perspective offers an instrument to determine the nature of organizational contexts and to discover transition strategies to adapt these contexts to given conditions, such as organizational integration of corporate innovation communities, for two reasons: First, it builds on the premise that organizational contexts frame individuals’ activities and outcomes (Burns & Stalker, 1994; Gladstein, 1984; Lawrence & Lorsch, 1967). Specifically, several scholars emphasize the crucial role of supporting cultural and structural contexts for innovation activities and outcomes to occur (de Brentani & Kleinschmidt, 2004; Burns & Stalker, 1994; Lawrence & Lorsch, 1967). Second, organizational contexts are also shaped by individuals’ behaviors as they choose from a broad scope to possible activities (Giddens, 1979, 1984; Jarzabkowski, 2008; Orlikowski, 1996). In this regard, Jarzabkowski (2008) hints at the effectiveness of interactive and procedural transition strategies to change given organizational contexts. Taken together, structuration theory is applied as theoretical foundation to analyze both the influence of organizational contexts on corporate innovation communities and transitions strategies to anchor corporate innovation communities within organizations.

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