25. June 2018 / Permalink / Short URL
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How Incumbents Select Startups as Dissimilar Innovation Partners

Julia K. de Groote presented her conjoint work with Julia Backmann, Fabienne Chappuis, and Claudio Stammler on the collaboration between incumbents and startups at the annual conference of the European Academy of Management (EURAM 2018) in Reykjavik (Iceland).


Within the past few years, the number of partnerships between incumbent and startup organizations aiming to develop innovations has increased significantly. While the potential is promising for developing innovative new ideas, services, and products and gaining valuable resources as a result of such partnerships, the dissimilarities between the two types of organizations pose considerable risks to successful collaboration. When selecting the right partner for their open innovation endeavors, the criteria that organizations generally consider, such as relational alignment and compatible organizational culture, do not seem to hold in incumbent-start-up partnerships. This raises the question of how to effectively identify and select the right partner for such endeavors. 

Applying a multiple case study design, the study explores the process of selecting a partner for open innovation cooperation involving an established organization and a startup firm. Specifically, it outlines the process from strategy through successful project execution with a focus on the partner sourcing and selection process. Based on the results from our qualitative data, we identify sources for identifying potential partners, project-related as well as partner-related selection criteria.

The presentation was followed by a very thought-provoking discussion with international scholars working in the field of innovation management. We look forward to continuing our work on this very topical project.

Julia K. de Groote
Julia K. de Groote
conducts research on thematic thinking at the University of Bern (Bern, Switzerland) and is author of "Using Thematic Thinking to Achieve Business Success, Growth, and Innovation".

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