Collaboration Strategies in Innovation: How Large Firms can Access Startup Knowledge

Philipp René Götz

Student thesis: Master thesis


With technological innovation disrupting entire industries, large firms are increasingly in the position where they see their core business model under the hazard of being disrupted by new innovations. Being traditionally in the position to fight back competition with large assets in resources and capabilities, incumbent firms in the regarding industries suddenly find themselves in positions, where internal assets do not suffice to compete anymore. The novel competition in times of radical innovation comes in the form of young entrepreneurial ventures that enter established industries with new digital innovations. With value propositions that build on the core products of the incumbent firms, these startups bring novel products and services to the market that build on cutting-edge technologies. Large firms are encountered with the dilemma that their internal organizational knowledge base does not render the possibility to develop equal products and services and thus lack the capability of competing with these startups for the newly establishing opportunities in the market. In this situation, the incumbent firms need to decide, if they want to take the role of the observer, while maintaining focus on their core business, or if they want to assess different forms of engaging in a participating role in the rise of technology innovation. This study focusses on the possibilities of large firms to engage in collaboration strategies for the access to innovation that lies beyond the existing knowledge base of the firm's organization. By constructing a theoretical framework that draws on the main aspects of technology innovation, organizational knowledge creation and collaboration strategies in innovation, the present work facilitates a scientific understanding of the developments and the opportunities for adaption in view of the current trends. Building on a qualitative case study of three companies representing the large firm's perspective, the perspective of the startup and an independent collaboration and innovation platform, the paper points towards new trends of engaging with complementary partners. Upon an analysis of the relevance of the findings, implications for theory and practice are drawn. Eventually, the study derives implications for future research from the findings.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages109
SupervisorsKarin Hoisl