Leadership in Open and Distributed Innovation

Stefan Haefliger, Marion Poetz

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


    Creating innovation and capturing value from doing so have considerably changed over the last two decades. New technologies – specifically rapid advances in information and communication technologies – and their extensive use, higher labor mobility and new divisions of labor, increased customer demands and shorter product life cycles have triggered new forms of creation and innovative practices (von Hippel and von Krogh, 2003; Baden-Fuller and Haefliger, 2013). These new forms can be characterized by being more open, distributed, collaborative, and democratized than traditional models of innovation. More and more companies are experimenting with such new forms in order to leverage widely distributed knowledge for their innovation efforts (Hienerth et al., 2011; Bogers et al. 2010). These innovation practices imply the work of individuals who combine and exchange knowledge more rapidly, more readily, and with more confidence that what they share can be used and reused. Research on Open and Distributed Innovation has so far addressed a variety of aspects including important insights into the flows of knowledge across company boundaries and the business model implications of creating value in networks of innovators, such as platform businesses (Alexy et al., 2009; Gawer and Cusumano, 2008; Füller et al., 2016). However, one aspect that has so far received little attention, both in research and in business practice is the potentially conflicting role of traditional forms of leadership in open innovation systems, processes and projects. Traditional approaches to leadership in innovation processes highlight the role of individual managers who lead and evaluate firm-internal team members, champion innovation projects within the organization and act as translators between various firm-internal functions such as R&D, manufacturing or marketing. Leadership of open and distributed innovation practices, however, may require from management a different understanding of individual actions, the social practices that underpin innovation work, and new approaches to instilling collective creativity, at a distance and up close (Jarvenpaa and Majchrzak, 2010; Faraj et al. 2011; Majchrzak and Jarvenpaa, 2015). This is because the fiat principle of hierarchy only sporadically applies to networks, communities or new forms of collaboration among firms such as e.g., incumbent firms collaborating with start-ups and communities or engaging in crowdsourcing initiatives.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2016
    Number of pages3
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2016: Making Organizations Meaningful - Anaheim, United States
    Duration: 5 Aug 20169 Aug 2016
    Conference number: 76


    ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2016
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    Internet address

    Cite this