Enabling Disruptive Innovation Through Corporate Venture Capital: An Investigation Into Detecting and Managing Start-ups Based on Their Innovation Strategy

Max Hamacher & Magnus Schückes

Student thesis: Master thesis


Disruptive innovation has been a widely discussed topic over the last two decades. Particularly in times of radical competitive change, it becomes imperative for incumbent firms to find adequate responses to disruptive innovation. Corporate venture capital (CVC) has recently gained popularity in a wide range of industries with incumbent firms opening their innovation activities up and investing in start-ups. This paper combines two distinct theoretical fields to deal with the suitability of corporate venture capital in the context of disruptive innovation. More specifically, the study seeks to answer how incumbent firms can employ CVC to respond to and manage disruptive innovation generated by start-up companies. Conducting a multiple case study of the German automotive industry, the research was carried out using qualitative methods in the form of semi structured interviews as well as desk research. The findings showed that CVC programs can be employed to detect and invest in disruptive start-ups. While the structural independence of a CVC program is a key requirement for success, an ambidextrous focus and a paradoxical strategic vision are both needed to align a CVC program’s scope and focus towards disruptive innovation. Leaders, in turn, need to commit fully towards exploration while enabling company-wide explorative activities.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Information Systems, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages391