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A Journal of University-Industry-Government Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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Innovation Cooperation between Large and Small Firms: Operational Models

Call for Papers

Globalization, climate change, technological development, and more create demand for continuous innovation and new operational business models. Large incumbents face tremendous challenges in continuing pursuing and exploiting their existing business at the same time as they need to explore new areas for the future. This has proven to be very hard and history is full of examples where large successful corporations turn into a downward spiral towards extinction. Small start-ups, on the other hand, excel in pursuing new ideas leading towards new innovation but face limitation when it comes to scaling its business on a global market. There are examples of collaborations initiated by large firms that lead to innovation success, however, many large firms still are looking for ways to develop the ambidextrous dynamic capability that would allow them to become innovative through the cooperation with small creative firms (Alänge and Steiber, 2017).

This has made the other actors in the Triple Helix (Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff, 1995, 1997), government, university, and industry players, trying to figure out what their role could be to contribute to the creation of a dynamic between large and small firms. Third party actors, both governmental, university, and privately or publicly funded intermediaries, have created space for interaction between large and small firms, such as Science Parks, research institutes, government- or privately funded accelerators, TTOs, laboratories and test sites, and specific initiatives such as local/central government funding of collaboration initiatives based on competitive applications by the participating parties, typically also including university participants.

This article collection is centered on these operational models initiated both by the industry participants themselves, and by the other Triple Helix actors. This has been an area where relatively little empirically based research has previously been presented (O’Reilly & Tushman, 2013) but where vital knowledge and experience now is being accumulated. Thus, there is a need of presenting and critically evaluating these operational models for ambidexterity. 

This article collection focuses on addressing the following questions:

  • Implemented operational models for ambidexterity, preferably described through case studies and from which lessons learned could be drawn. How could these implemented operational models be conceptualized and characterized? Lessons learned over time by the firm applying the specific operational model for ambidexterity? Suggestion on sub questions:
    • What are the triggers for adoption of the selected operational model and what are the goals and ambition levels for selected empirical cases?
    • What is the planned duration of activities within the operational model and is the model in itself viewed as a permanent or a temporary instrument?
    • Is any type of intermediary involved in the operational model? What is the intermediary's role(s)?
    • Could underlying dynamic capabilities be identified as a prerequisite or result of developing and implementing the new operational model for ambidexterity? (that is could the Dynamic Capabilities concept and the Ambidexterity concept been viewed as complementing concepts?)
  • What are the metrics for success used by the firm? Suggestion on general metrics that could be used to analyze the effectiveness of a specific operational model?

  • What roles do third party actors (intermediaries) take in facilitating or participating in initiating and accomplishing innovation cooperation between small and large firms?

    • Can Third Party “Space” serve a vital role in creating innovation cooperation between large and small firms, e.g. science parks, accelerator program, filtering function, and more (Lopez & Vanhaverbeke, 2009), and if so, how is this done and under what circumstances?
    • Are intermediaries becoming more or less important over time in supporting this kind of new collaboration between large and small firms? (for example some large firms create their own “private” open innovation solutions focused on startups)
  • To what extent are university actors vital contributors to innovation processes including both on-going knowledge cooperation and entrepreneurial spin-offs from universities?
    • Which university actors can be identified – such as students, researchers, IP and liaison offices.
  • In selected case study of an operational model for ambidexterity, what is the role of intellectual property – such as patents and licensing? Can IP issues be a hurdle? How have the actors behind the models found workable ways to solve the IP issues?

We would like to invite you to address these questions or pose your own. An ideal article combines theoretical, empirical and policy elements, although the balance may differ.

Abstract submission
Authors should submit their abstracts directly to the guest editors by 31 August 2017.

Full paper submission

Full papers should be submitted using the submission instructions below by 31 December 2017.

Lead guest editor
Dr Annika Steiber, A.S. Management Insights AB, USA

Guest editor
Assoc. Prof. Sverker Alänge, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden

Submission instructions
Before submitting your manuscript, please ensure you have carefully read the Instructions for Authors for Triple Helix. The complete manuscript should be submitted through the Triple Helix submission system. To ensure that you submit to the correct article collection please select the appropriate section in the drop-down menu upon submission. In addition, indicate within your cover letter that you wish your manuscript to be considered as part of the article collection on "Innovation Cooperation between Large and Small Firms: Operational Models". All submissions will undergo rigorous peer review and accepted articles will be published within the journal as a collection.

Additional information:
Submissions will also benefit from the usual advantages of open access publication:

  • Rapid publication: Online submission, electronic peer review and production make the process of publishing your article simple and efficient
  • High visibility and international readership in your field: Open access publication ensures high visibility and maximum exposure for your work - anyone with online access can read your article
  • No space constraints: Publishing online means unlimited space for figures, extensive data and video footage
  • Authors retain copyright, licensing the article under a Creative Commons license: articles can be freely redistributed and reused as long as the article is correctly attributed

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Further reading
Alänge, S, & Steiber, A. (2017) Innovation Collaboration between Small and Large Firms: Three operational models for ambidexterity in large corporations

Etzkowitz, H., & Leydesdorff, L. (1995). The TripleHelix---University-Industry-Government relations: a laboratory for knowledge based economic development. East Review, 14(1), 14-19.

Etzkowitz, H., & Leydesdorff, L. (1997). Universities and the global knowledge economy: a triple helix of university-industry-government relations. London: Pinter.

Lopez, H. & Vanhaverbeke, W. (2009). How innovation intermediaries are shaping the technology market. An analysis of their business model, MPRA Paper, No. 20458, posted 7. November 2010.

O’Reilly III C. & Tushman M. (2013). Organizational Ambidexterity: Past, Present, and Future, The Academy of Management Perspectives, Vol.27, No. 4, pp: 324-338.