Innovate within product lines or outside of them? An ethnographic study of corporate innovation in a corporate venture makerspace.
Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation
Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)
corporate entrepreneurship; innovation; institutional logics; ethnography; organizational design; makerspace
Organizational forms firms use for innovating include R&D departments, corporate venturing, and open innovation. This dissertation examines a new form for corporate innovation—the corporate venture makerspace. Makerspaces are “shared production facilities,” and scholars suggest they are environments in which to create; yet few firms have adopted them as a means to innovate. This dissertation is an ethnographic study in which I examine why a large corporation with active R&D centers and limited resources also has a corporate venture makerspace as a secondary innovation mechanism when both organizations serve the same overarching function: explorative learning activities intended to generate innovative products, increasing the parent company’s profitability. I ask in what ways does this organization implement its institutional logics into its organizational design, and what benefits or drawbacks, if any, result from its design. The reason why the organization ended up with a traditional R&D department and a corporate venture makerspace is because the makerspace was supposed to be a means to achieve more breakthrough innovations, but a historical process unfolded when product successes required increased capabilities and resource spreading, generating increased pressures to adopt a different logic. When products underperformed, additional logics, further increasing similarity, were incorporated to avoid future failure. The study contributes to the discussion of new product development within a corporate venture, demonstrating intentional and unintentional ways innovation is enabled and constrained. The results suggest important practical implications for corporate venture managers, particularly ways in which initial innovation goals can be replaced when products succeed or fail.
Crider, Cole Joseph, "Innovate within product lines or outside of them? An ethnographic study of corporate innovation in a corporate venture makerspace." (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 3214.