The Complexity of Facilitating Networks of Open Innovation: Three examples of what (not) to do

Viola Hoffmann

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis observes three network initiatives, called OpenAlps, smart businessIT and TTC, which all focus on implementing open innovation as a tool for economic enhancement of SMEs in their respective region. Thereby the research question is how networks overcome SME-typical barriers to open innovation and why this is not always successful despite acting as a neutral intermediary as suggested by Lee et. al (2010). Identified from the literature typical barriers are time, human resource and financial constraints as well as the fear to lose intellectual property and the need to concentrate on opportunities of exploitation. In order to answer this twofold research question a theoretical framework has been designed to guide the first, exploratory part of the research. Hereby three main categories have been retrieved from literature, which are (1) networks, (2) intermediaries, and (3) SMEs. Within these categories several variables guide the deductive approach. The second part of the research question proceeds in an inductive way first operationalizing Tuckman and Jensen’s model for group development (1977) to encompass the issues caused in a social dimension of these networks. Additionally geographic communities and a culture of cooperation are identified as relevant factors in the early stage of open innovation network development. Due to the fact that this thesis focuses on the initial stage of open innovation network development, the picture drawn does not represent the whole complexity of the issue. Nonetheless this thesis can contribute to a thorough understanding of the importance of rooting an initiative for open innovation profoundly both within the operating intermediary networks as well as within the network area.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages87