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Crossing horizons. Leveraging cross-industry innovation search in the front-end of the innovation process

: Brunswicker, S.; Hutschek, U.


International journal of innovation management 14 (2010), Nr.4, S.683-702
ISSN: 1363-9196
Fraunhofer IAO ()

"Open innovation" and "external search" for new ideas are central topics in the recent discourse in innovation research. External search helps firms to identify new opportunities for innovation and alleviates the risks of local search. It is widely acknowledged that novel ideas regularly emerge from the combination of distant pieces of knowledge and interaction with "idea suppliers" from distant knowledge domains. However, the current discussion on open innovation has hardly touched upon the question of how firms can systematically search for cross-industry innovation inputs in the fuzzy front-end of the innovation process. This paper links relevant concepts of cognitive psychology and management theory - such as analogical problem solving and the principle of isomorphism - with open innovation in the front-end. It discusses relevant dimensions of systematic search for innovation across industries. A piloted framework is presented that assists firms in systematically and interactively searching for external innovation inputs in distant industries. This framework supports external innovation search in distant industries for a fuzzy customer problem. The results of this participatory action research indicate that a systematic and interactive search process is of practical value to innovation managers. It also points out contingencies of cross-industry innovation search.