Navigating service sector innovation using co-creation partnerships

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Service Theory and Practice, 2015, 25 (3), pp. 285 - 303
Issue Date:
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©Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyse 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. Design/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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