The interaction of multiple champions in orchestrating innovation networks: Conflicts and complementarities

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In networked or open innovation processes, so-called innovation communities have been identified in the innovation champion literature, in which innovation champions from different levels in the innovation system supposedly act as a team. It has however not been studied in detail to what extent and how different champions in innovation communities complement each other and act as a team. Applying the concept of innovation network orchestration to analyze the role and position of different kinds of champions as brokers in innovation networks, the purpose of this paper is to unravel the interaction between champions and what this entails in terms of role complementarities and conflicts as regards innovation network orchestration. This is done by using an explorative multiple case study approach in which three innovation journeys are analyzed. The results indicate that a distinction can be made between primary innovation communities, who act as aggregated orchestrators of the overall innovation network, and who in turn orchestrate secondary innovation communities in certain sub-networks. Here different kinds of champions complement each other and act as a team, but these complementarities are not a given: they are negotiated over time in interaction, and lack of reflection on each other’s roles may result in role conflicts. The main conclusion is that an oversimplified notion of innovation communities as a unified team of champions should be avoided: innovation communities themselves need a form of orchestration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-210
Issue number6-7
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • structural holes
  • intermediaries
  • management
  • knowledge
  • industry
  • brokers
  • infrastructure
  • communities
  • orientation
  • leadership


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