The Future Of Innovation ... A Blurring Of Boundaries

Ms Tessa van der Valk

In several technological fields, an increased level of outsourcing by organisations is observed. This tendency is fuelled by an increasing technological complexity, an increasing speed of technological change, and a scarcity of resources. The coinciding tendency of specialisation of organisations has made networking capabilities of vital importance to their survival. This way of organising innovation has been a great challenge for organisations, and this challenge will only be greater in the future.

First of all, the number of different types of organisations or other actors to interact with is increasing. For instance, in several industry sectors, intermediate as well as end users are becoming more and more important in innovation. This growing diversity of partners will place an ever higher demand on the collaborative competences of organisations, most notably their ability to select partners and subsequently manage these relationships effectively.

Furthermore, the tendencies sketched above will require organisations to constantly reconsider their boundaries and reposition themselves within their technological field or market. The ability to organise innovation in new ways will be increasingly important. In this respect, developing and employing innovative business models will be one of the primary sources of competitive advantage. Correspondingly, it will be those organisations that are able to make innovative connections between other specialised organisations that are more likely to be successful in the future. In other words: the highest profits will be achieved by those organisations that are able to efficiently organise their internal activities and manage the boundaries of their organisation, but are also well aware of what happens beyond these boundaries.

An illustrative example for these developments can be derived from the life sciences sector. Small dedicated biotechnology firms are constantly looking for ways to enable earlier commercialisation of their competences, in the light of a decreasing availability of funding. By providing R&D services and out licensing technology platforms these firms employ hybrid business models in an attempt to finance their product development. These firms are also increasingly looking for niches that are not perceived to be lucrative by large established organisations, such as medicines targeting relatively small, highly specific patient populations. And especially these small firms will be in need of sustainable relations with patients and their representative organisations.

The implications of these developments are not static; they require constant, deliberate management efforts. Counter intuitively, these efforts should thus be aimed at effectively blurring the boundaries of the organisation.

Article © 2009 Ms Tessa van der Valk. All rights reserved.

about the author...

Ms Tessa van der Valk

Ms Tessa van der Valk

affiliation:   Innovation Policy Group Of Tno

position:  Researcher

country:  Netherlands

area of interest:  Networks of innovation

contact author

keywords for “The Future Of Innovation ... A Blurring Of Boundaries”