Innovation in networks : challenges and opportunities in the Norwegian aid industry
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- Master of Science 
Pursuing innovative activities in collaboration with other actors in a network may entail both challenges and opportunities for firms. While the traditional approach to innovation was that firms should keep their work secret to ensure a head-start over any potential competitors, the focus is turning towards the benefits of collaborative innovation. The idea is that firms that combine their skills, knowledge, and resources may achieve ends that none of the firms could have achieved in isolation. Innovative partnerships may occur between customers, suppliers, or other actors that a firm may obtain access to through its network. To be able to facilitate such innovative partnerships, in-depth knowledge of the challenges and benefits firms experience in such situations are pertinent. The Norwegian aid industry has a pressing need to constantly improve the solutions it offers to humanitarian issues. Additionally, the Norwegian aid industry has a constructed network established by the governmental funded network provider NOREPS, which aim is to foster humanitarian innovation. Three case firms have participated in this multiple case study. Through various approaches, they have developed new and innovative products that satisfies different needs in the aid industry. Their different methods, needs, and varied success ensures interesting contributions to the question of opportunities and challenges related to collaborative product and market innovation. This study identifies customer and supplier relationships as the most valuable and most used partnerships among the participating firms. Collaboration across business logics, here represented by profit-seeking firms and non-profit humanitarian organisations, present the most challenges and opportunities. The main challenges identified are social and cultural differences, lack of trust, lack of communication, risk aversion, low degree of knowledge transfer, late customer involvement, unawareness of common goals and tender based procurement procedures. The main opportunities are those factors that enables firms to overcome these challenges and make use of the existing actor variety in terms of skills, knowledge and resources. Increased communication, a focus on common goals, risk reduction measures, early customer involvement, and mutual understanding for the other’s way of operating represents great opportunities for collaborative innovation.
Masteroppgave(MSc) in Master of Science in Business, Strategy - Handelshøyskolen BI, 2017