Inderscience Publishers

Flexibility in innovation through external learning: exploring two models for enhanced industry?university collaboration

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This paper draws on extensive theoretical research and literature reviews, and presents two cases to illustrate practical applications. It addresses the problem of how learning both from extracorporate sources, like universities, as well as across internal corporate functions, like R&D and manufacturing, can enhance company flexibility and performance in innovation. This paper aims at delivering a new theoretical rationale for industry?university (I-U) learning alliances as a natural way out from the managerial problem of trying to perform both exploration and exploitation within the same company boundaries. Through our theoretical framework, the academic science domain becomes a logical partner to handle the full phase of exploration and support the process of exploitation. The presented cases of Packman and HiFiPower offer new insight into how to perform this act in practice.

Keywords: exploration, exploitation, flexibility, external learning, industry?university collaboration, innovation management, organisational learning, networks, weak ties, industrial collaboration, innovation performance

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