Innovation Bridge: A study of BBC connected Studio as an Open Innovation Programme within a Creative Conglomerate

Anna Visigalli

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of this thesis is to investigate how an exploration-oriented unit within a creative conglomerate manages open innovation. This research quest contributes to the understudied context of creative conglomerates, highlights new aspects of structural ambidexterity and sheds some light on challenges of open innovation management within exploration-oriented units. Thus, this study joins a wider academic debate on how to manage innovation in the new knowledge economy. The study focuses on the qualitative analysis of Connected Studio, an open innovation programme launched in 2012 by the British Broadcasting Corporation. And, it is complemented with a brief study of the BBC and the precursors of Connected Studio, namely Backstage and Innovation Labs. Despite the limitations of a single case study, the validity of the research is preserved with preliminary comparative analysis and triangulation of a vast amount of data, e.g. direct observations, semi-structured interviews and secondary data. The research unveils five main findings. Firstly, creative conglomerates are affected by opposing imperatives derived from organisational characteristics and digital trends; the latter recently increasing the urge to innovate. Secondly, when an exploration-oriented unit nurtures a strong relation with the home organisation it is more likely to foster innovation. But, this relational context and the consequential challenges transform the exploration-oriented unit into an ambidextrous one. Thirdly, the exploration-oriented unit adjusts the management of ambidexterity to the evolving relational context. Thus, it dynamically manages open innovation. Fourthly, the unit generates different types of innovation over time, and it progressively changes the conglomerate. In creative conglomerates, technological development, new creative processes and organisational change reinforce each other in a virtuous cycle. Finally, an exploration-oriented unit manages open innovation by becoming an innovation bridge. On one hand, it connects creative conglomerates with technological development, new creative processes and organisational change in order to bring innovation to customers. On the other hand, it links four balancing acts derived from internal challenges: outside and inside, integration and separation, routine and disruption, safety and experimentation. In conclusion, exploration-oriented units within creative conglomerates manage open innovation by involving internal stakeholders at each stage of the innovation process. The units serve as innovation bridges as they connect creative conglomerates with the external world thanks to innovation.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages135