Navigating Service Sector Innovation using Co-creation Partnerships

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Managing Service Quality, 2015
Issue Date:
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Purpose: This paper analyses a series of engineering services partnerships to better understand requisites needed in building high value co-creation alliances - especially where innovation is the strategic goal. Methodology/approach: Using a combination of quantitative surveys, qualitative `deep-dive assessments and a small number of in-situ mini-case investigations this research sets out to analyse 99 joint-venture innovation partnerships. These ventures represent a variety of asymmetric and symmetric alliances within the engineering services sector. Particular emphasis is given to those where the prerequisites for co-creative innovation are either in place or could be built. Findings: Partnering and progressing innovative ideas are important behaviours for organisations seeking higher levels of commercial success and competitive advantage. Navigating the partnering dynamic can also be harder than expected, potentially hindered by misunderstandings and differing expectations between enterprises. Particularly for symmetric endeavours success often hinges upon not only having clarity in the degree of innovation sought but also alignment as to the depth and stage of the partnering dynamic itself. However, when such collaboration works customer satisfaction and associated contract retention can increase significantly. Originality/value Most inter-company innovation projects historically seem to occur where one firm is significantly larger than the other. In contrast, this study highlights issues encountered when innovation co-creation projects are undertaken by a mature (as opposed to maturing) organisation in collaboration with partners where the power balance is similar between the two enterprises. In such cases, customer satisfaction surveys can be useful tools for objectively navigating the innovation co-creation experience.
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