Organizational openness and innovation - exploring capabilities and the role of digitalization

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Type and Duration

PhD-Thesis, February 2015 until January 2020 (finished)


Hilti Chair of Business Process Management

Main Research

Business Process Management

Field of Research

Innovation Management


The notion that innovation no longer takes place within the borders of a single organization is not something new. The world's growing complexity and changing environments challenge both incumbent firms and new ventures to explore new forms of innovation, forms that go beyond what organizations can handle themselves. Research has acknowledged that the traditional vertically integrated innovation model has often given space to a rather distributed process across multiple stakeholders in a value network. In contrast to the "closed" model of innovation, we see a move toward openness or "distributed innovation processes". Open or distributed approaches to innovation make use of inflows and outflows of knowledge to improve innovation processes and outcomes and are based on the principle that success requires businesses to combine external assets with internal assets and capabilities. Internet developments and the expansion of new technologies as collaborative methods, such as Crowdsourcing, play a significant role in facilitating and stimulating innovation, as well in supporting openness in organizational structures and processes. Digitalization and the rise of the so-called Digital Economy have not only accelerated a conversion towards digital products, services and business models but it has also dramatically changed the way businesses compete and operate. This approach offers opportunities, but also defies established practices, norms, cultures and structures and, therefore, demands innovation processes to be managed in an unusual way.
The goal of this PhD research project is to pursue a more comprehensive understanding of distributed innovation practices. We aim at analyzing the key technological and managerial changes associated with them. The outcomes are expected to contribute to the recent academic and practical discussion about new or complementary approaches of innovation and the role of digitalization.


Dynamic capabilities, Strategy, Innovation management, Digitalization