The generation of common purpose in innovation partnerships: A design perspective

  • Gillier T
  • Kazakci A
  • Piat G
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Abstract

Purpose – Scholars and practitioners have both emphasized the importance of collaboration in an innovation context. They have also largely acknowledged that the definition of common purpose is a major driver of successful collaboration, but surprisingly, researchers have put little effort into investigating the process whereby the partners define the common purpose. The purpose of this paper is to explore the generation of common purpose (GCP) in innovation partnerships. Design/methodology/approach – An action-research approach combined with modeling has been followed. The authors’ research is based on an in-depth qualitative case study of a cross-industry exploratory partnership through which four partners, from very different arenas, aim to collectively define innovation projects based on micro-nanotechnologies. Based on a design reasoning framework, the mechanisms of GCP mechanism are depicted. Findings – Regarding GCP, two main interdependent facets are identified: the determination of existing intersections between the parties’ concept and knowledge spaces (“Matching”); and an introspective learning process that allows the parties to transforms those spaces (“Building”). Practical implications – The better understanding of the GCP and the specific notion of “C-K profiles”, which is an original way to characterize each partner involved in a partnership, should improve the capabilities of organizations to efficiently define collaborative innovation projects. Originality/value – The paper explores one of the cornerstones of successful collaboration in innovation: the process whereby several parties define the common purpose of their partnership. Keywords

Author-supplied keywords

  • C-K design theory
  • Cross-industry exploratory partnership
  • Design
  • Generation of common purpose
  • Innovation
  • Innovation partnerships
  • Partnership
  • Shared objectives

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