Managing Open Innovation in the Presence of Grand Environmental Challenges. Identifying Stakeholder Co-Creation Capabilities and Exp loring the Role of the Brand Purpose in Managing Envi ronmental Open Innovation

Ebba Nilsson & Carolin/Nathalie Becker

Student thesis: Master thesis


In response to the grand sustainability issues that affect society and the planet globally, and increasing consumer demand for more sustainable products, companies face the challenge of developing radical solutions. Due to the complex nature of radical environmental innovations, firms are required to engage with various external stakeholders to gain access to expertise and to address challenges that are that are too complex to be solved by one company alone. In this context, a new phenomenon of environmental open innovation has emerged. This study set out to investigate the underlying mechanisms, processes and elements that enable radical environmental open innovation, not only from a capability perspective but also from a corporate brand perspective. The latter involves examine the scarcely researched brand-innovation relationship by investigating the role of the brand purpose in driving and guiding environmental open innovation. The investigation takes its departure in the exploratory case study of Carlsberg and its radical environmental innovation project – the Green Fibre Bottle. Qualitative interviews were conducted with key players in the innovation network, including Carlsberg employees and two individuals from external partners. This thesis contributes to innovation and branding literature by illustrating how innovation capabilities and the brand purpose can facilitate radical environmental open innovation. Five stakeholder co-creation capabilities, and their microfoundations, and seven different roles of the brand purpose in facilitating environmental open innovation have been identified. The study not only demonstrates a connection between the capability and corporate brand perspective, but also reveals the power of an environmental flagship project in strengthening the brand purpose internally and externally. It was further found that a holistic brand-led innovation is manifested within the entire organisation, rather than solely within the branding-team. Additionally, this study demonstrates the necessity for organisations to incorporate both functional as well as meaning and human elements to harness knowledge and competence synergies between diverse innovation partners.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages184
SupervisorsRichard Jones