Engaging with the Startup Ecosystem to Enable Disruptive Innovation: An Empirical Study of Corporate Startup Programs

Guillermo Filitz & Lotta Lichtenberger

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this research is to explore the phenomenon of corporate-startup engagement in relation to disruptive innovation. Corporations are commonly threatened by new entrants that might push them out of the market. We investigate how the interaction with startups enables corporations to be on the side of the disrupter instead of being disrupted. By doing so, we aim to extend the existing literature around disruptive innovation and startup engagement. Further, we aim to provide guidance to corporations that want to engage with startups to enable disruptive innovations. Design/methodology/approach: Due to the exploratory nature of the research we investigate the corporate-startup engagement through multiple-case studies. We employ Grounded Theory to build an empirically grounded model of our findings. Findings: The findings indicate that the engagement between corporations and the startup ecosystem evolves in three chronological timeframes. In the endeavor to enable disruptive innovation, corporations are inhibited by legacies which lead to a focus on the core business, current customers and short-term objectives. Through corporate startup programs corporations are exposed to new ideas, technologies and ways of working. This results in learnings that shift the focus to new growth opportunities that can potentially develop into disruptive innovations in the future. Research limitations/implications: Disruptive innovation is a phenomenon that cannot be grasped within the limited time available during this research. A longitudinal study spanning several years is needed to evaluate the long-term outcomes of the interaction between corporations and the startup ecosystem. Originality/Value: This study builds a novel empirical framework which elaborates on how the engagement between corporations and the startup ecosystem evolves through corporate startup programs. We further elaborate on inhibitors as well as enablers of creating disruptive innovation through the startup ecosystem, a research area that has not been addressed previously.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2018
Number of pages150
SupervisorsSudhanshu Rai