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Role of relationships and networks in radical innovation

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

The corporate importance of innovation is well documented, which has encouraged much research into activities for developing and launching successful new products (e.g. Brown & Eisenhardt 2005; Hart, et. al. 2004; Montoya-Weiss & Calantone 1994; Henard & Szymanski 2001; Cooper & Kleinschmidt, 2007). An important distinction drawn within this literature surrounds the innovativeness of the development;  between incremental innovations, which maintain the status quo, and radical innovations, which are more disruptive and potentially have a much more dramatic impact on competing firms and the marketplace (Tellis, et. al. 2009; Srinivasan, et. al. 2002). Moreover, research suggests that key differences exist between incremental and radical innovation practices, in relation to management, processes, structures, people, competences and network participants (e.g. Athaide, et. al. 1996, Leifer, et. al. 2000; Pittaway, et. al. 2004; Rice, et. al. 2002; Salomo et al., 2007; Song & Montoya-Weiss 1998; Story, et. al. 2009; Thieme, et. al. 2003, Veryzer 1998). However, much research in this area is still focused on more incremental innovation.  This is incongruous with the impact that Radical Innovation can have due to its paradigm-shifting characteristics and the benefits that firms can accrue from launching successful radical innovations, such as: securing market growth; dominating world markets; and improving the international competitiveness of their home economies (Atuahene-Gima 2005; Sorescu, et. al. 2003; Tellis & Golder 2001). 

Relationships and networks form the backbone of business and industrial marketing in both traditional and more technically based markets (Håkansson, 1982, Håkansson and Lundgren 1995, Håkansson et al, 2009).  This is particularly true when examining innovation activity, as few firms have the capability to develop innovations internally; success often involves the transfer of resources between individual actors and organisations (e.g. Pittaway et al., 2004; Rice et al., 2002; Story et al., 2009). Whilst much is known about how incremental innovation occurs within stable partnerships, it is clear that the insights generated from this research have proven difficult to translate to radical innovation, where success is predicated upon the search for and acquisition of diverse knowledge (Kelley, et. al. 2009), can involve both new technological investments (Herrmann et al., 2009) and new relationship investments (Story, et. al, 2009), and can often require actors to operate outside their technical and informational comfort zones (Gnyawali & Madhavan 2001; Powell et al., 2005).

Given the centrality of RI to contemporary discourse around growth, sustainability, and competitive advantage, it is vital that the research community generates a deeper understanding of the value of relationships, networks and interactions for the development of radical innovations.
Papers from academics and practitioners in the area are welcomed.  Papers that take an inter-disciplinary approach to the role of relationships and networks in radical innovation are also encouraged.  Contributions to this special issue should present new theories or research into relationships, networks and interactions in radical innovation in business-to-business and industrial contexts.  All types of research study including quantitative and qualitative analysis, case studies, conceptual and empirical research are welcomed. 

The following themes represent some topics which are of particular interest to the overall focus of the special issue:

• Radical innovation in both manufacturing and service contexts
• Relationship dynamics associated with radical innovation
• Networks involved in radical innovation
• Innovation driven by external parties, e.g. customers, suppliers, users
• Coordination of activities and resources across boundaries during radical innovation
• The role of boundary spanners in supporting radical innovation
• Management issues relating to radical innovation in networks and relationships
• Resource mobilisation
• Characteristics of successful relationship development in a radical innovation context
• Do particular business networks support the development of radical innovations?
• Whether tightly coupled or loosely coupled networks yield stronger radical innovation outcomes
• To what extent is it important for customers to be involved in the development of radical innovations

Paper Submission and Review Process

Submissions to Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts, the online submission and peer review system. Registration and access is available at Full information and guidance on using ScholarOne Manuscripts is available at the Emerald ScholarOne Manuscripts Support Centre:  Submissions to this Special Issue will be double-blind peer reviewed.

Submission deadline

1st October 2012

Guest Editors

Dr Judy Zolkiewski , Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Manchester Business School, Booth Street West, Manchester, M15 6PB, UK.

Dr Vicky Story, Lecturer in Marketing, Nottingham University Business School, Jubilee Campus, Wollaton Road, Nottingham, NG8 1BB, UK; Tel. +44 (0)115 8466192; Email: [email protected]

Dr Jamie Burton, Lecturer in Marketing, Manchester Business School, Booth Street West, Manchester, M15 6PB, UK.


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