The Adoption and Adaption of Open Innovation: Empirical Evidence from the Biotechnology Industry

PhD Thesis

Kunz, R. (2020). The Adoption and Adaption of Open Innovation: Empirical Evidence from the Biotechnology Industry. PhD Thesis London South Bank University School of Business
AuthorsKunz, R.
TypePhD Thesis

The biotechnology sector is one of the most research and development intensive sectors in the healthcare industry. This thesis provides insights into the innovation management approaches and underlying processes to develop radical innovative technologies, products and services. Radical innovation usually does not come from Germany. Despite the history of high quality products, grounded in German engineering and the power of the so called Mittelstand (SMEs), the typical German innovation is essentially incremental, rather than radical.
Therefore, this thesis aims to shed light on this myth, by studying the different stages of the founding process of a biotechnology spin-off, led by a serial entrepreneur. The in-depth, longitudinal case study provides a profound, fine grained inside view into the development of radical innovation in the German ecosystem. To broaden the view and be able to draw conclusions for the biotech sector, multiple cases from five successful, mature, biotech SMEs, based in Germany(4) and the Netherlands(1), are included in the study.
The theoretical framework proposed, is based on two complementary perspectives by firstly integrating the five key characteristic activities of the open innovation concept: R&D, Intellectual Property, Collaboration, Networking, and
Entrepreneur- and Leadership, and secondly, the conceptual framework of open innovation, which covers the management of knowledge. The comprehensive data collection includes 11 interviews, observation and participant observation, as well as a rich, in-depth longitudinal data collection of 210 events that illustrates the different stages of founding the spin-off company. Extensive content analysis, coding and constant comparison, adapting grounded theory methods led to empirical themes for both case study types.
This empirical study embraces two different types of organizations to shed light on the innovation processes from multi-level perspectives. These perspectives covering the organizational, intra-organization and the inter-organizational level, strengthened by the project and individual perspective. Therefore, the findings from this thesis filling a gap in the recent literature about open innovation.
The outcome of this research emphasizes, that radical innovation, like the Human-on-a-Chip technology are based on the vision of an experienced, serial Entrepreneur, who managed to find and motivate the Right People for this ambitious project. The open attitude and willingness to share knowledge at every stage of the newly founded biotech spin-off, is one of the pre-requisites for their success story. The biotech spin-off TissUse GmbH has created a Beyond open innovation business model.
The findings about the mature biotech SMEs suggesting, that at a later stage of business development, Partnerships are at the core of their innovation strategies. Even if three of the five participating CEOs and C-level managers did not know the term open innovation, they are brilliant examples for the adoption and adaption of the open innovation concept. Nevertheless, their demand for external knowledge is driven by their own in-house technology expertise.
Findings also suggest, that in context with Partnerships, especially the collaboration with big pharmaceutical companies is shadowed by the different size and culture of these organizations. In summary, this thesis makes contributions to the body of knowledge in a multi-perspective way. Academics can profit from the in-depth, comprehensive findings about biotechnology organizations, practitioners and young potential founders can learn from TissUse' success story and the SMEs innovation journeys. Open innovation moved from a business phenomenon to a real business world concept!

PublisherLondon South Bank University
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Print25 Feb 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited31 Jul 2023
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