Managing knowledge boundaries for open innovation – lessons from the automotive industry

Miriam Wilhelm*, Wilfred Dolfsma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: The rising need to innovate and obtain knowledge from more distant knowledge sources calls for new innovation strategies and a better integration of other external actors who lie outside the traditional automotive supply chain. Such an open innovation strategy challenges organizational boundaries both on the firm and supply chain level, yet our understanding of the functioning of such boundaries and how they can be managed to allow for purposive knowledge flows is limited. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach: In a longitudinal case study, the authors trace the development of the first open innovation network in the German automotive industry over a period of five years based on archival data, semi-structured interviews, and field observations. Findings: While the automotive industry is advanced in collaborating with suppliers for innovation, routines for assessing and integrating ideas from sources outside the supply chain are still underdeveloped. The authors show which current knowledge boundaries pose obstacles for open innovation initiatives in this industry, and how they could be mediated through the involvement of gatekeepers. Originality/value: The authors challenge and clarify the notion of the “permeability of organizational boundaries” in the open innovation literature and investigate the role of gatekeepers for open innovation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-248
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Operations and Production Management
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Automotive industry
  • Case study
  • Knowledge boundaries
  • Open innovation

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