Researches on BtoB Open Innovation focus on the project level rather that on the dyadic level when it is recognized for a long time that the performance of a collaboration for innovation depends on the nature of the interaction of both firms and on the atmosphere the relationship.
Three overlapping streams of research:
(i) R&D alliances and technology partnerships (Faems, De Visser, Andries, & Van Looy, 2010; Hagedoorn & Duysters, 2002)
(ii) Open Innovation (Gassmann et al. 2010; Huizingh, 2011)
(iii) supplier involvement in new product development (Brattström, Löfsten, & Richtnér, 2012; Yeniyurt, Henke Jr, & Yalcinkaya, 2014)
Given the contradictory proposals between those who observed the positive role of atmosphere (Van Echtelt et al, 2008; Yeniyurt et al., 2014) and those who detected non-significant or negative effects of some dimensions, we want to delve into that question of the role of the atmosphere on BtoB OI performance
We propose that each type of partnership (X) leads to a certain level of performance (Y), because of the atmosphere of the relationship (M), which in turns impacts the performance of the collaboration
We test our hypotheses through a web-based survey resulting in the description of 160 client-supplier dyads collaborating in a joint innovation project.
Type of partnerships, atmosphere and performance of the relationship are evaluated through hierarchical ascendant classifications.
Mediation analysis is conducted by runningthe macro PROCESS of SPSS and following the guideline provided by Hayes & Preacher (2014)
Questionnaire design is based on the literature and on 35 qualitative semi-structured interviews with practitioners implicated in vertical Open Innovation collaboration.
The sample is made of 160 vertical dyads collaborating in one on-going innovation project, in France. The respondent are coming from Top Management (31%), Sales (32%) and Research & Development (26%) of the supplier firm,. 81% of them had been with their firm for more than 3 years. Our focus on innovation collaboration leads us to distinguish the stage of maturity of the innovation project at the time of the involvement of the supplier: “Research and feasibility” (101 projects), “Product design and Prototyping” (29 projects), and “Pilot and industrialization” (30 projects). 105 of these projects are targeting product innovation, 12 process (or organization) innovation and 43 product and process innovation.
Our analysis shows no a direct influence of the type of partnership on the performance of the relationship, but a mediated influence through the relationship atmosphere.
Second, we observe that such mediation is not systematic: the various component of the atmosphere mediates differently the influence of the types of partnerships on the performance.
Contribution to Scholarship
Our first result calls for a careful reconsideration of the links between the components of types of partnerships, such as the contractual arrangements and the relational mechanisms, and the atmosphere of the relationship. Our results suggest that studies considering the way a dyad is managed as a predictor of the performance, should examine how the type of management can influence the atmosphere that will then influence the performance.
The second kind of results is the assessment of how the type of partnership affects the performance both directly and indirectly through the atmosphere of the relationship. In line with all the studies on the role of trust in innovation collaboration (Brattström et al., 2012; Yeniyurt et al., 2014), our results show its central importance and its positive impact on every dimension of performance, whatever the type of partnership is.
Contribution to Practice
For practitioners, the main implication of the first result is to rethink the role of the partnership type, and therefore to reshape their way of building the dyadic management (contractual mechanisms and relational mechanisms). Partnership types first serve the quality of the atmosphere, who will in turn influence the performance. Though, this means a search for the partnership type that will influence the best possible the atmosphere.
Our research is an in-depth work on the functioning, and its link with performance of BtoB Open Innovation
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Faems, D., De Visser, M., Andries, P., & Van Looy, B. (2010). Technology Alliance Portfolios and Financial Performance: Value-Enhancing and Cost-Increasing Effects of Open Innovation*. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 27(6), 785–796. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5885.2010.00752.x
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Hagedoorn, J., & Duysters, G. (2002). External sources of innovative capabilities: the preferences for strategic alliances or mergers and acquisitions. Journal of Management Studies, 39(2), 167–188.
Huizingh, E. K. R. E. (2011). Open innovation: State of the art and future perspectives. Technovation, 31(1), 2–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.technovation.2010.10.002
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Van Echtelt, F. E. A., Wynstra, F., Van Weele, A. J., & Duysters, G. (2008). Managing Supplier Involvement in New Product Development: A Multiple-Case Study. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 25(2), 180–201. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5885.2008.00293.x
Yeniyurt, S., Henke Jr, J. W., & Yalcinkaya, G. (2014). A longitudinal analysis of supplier involvement in buyers’ new product development: working relations, inter-dependence, co-innovation, and performance outcomes. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 42(3), 291–308. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-013-0360-7