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Start-ups and Open Innovation

Special issue call for papers from European Journal of Innovation Management

Guest editors

Vincenzo Corvello, University of Calabria, Department of Mechanical, Energy and Management Engineering, Italy, [email protected]

Michele Grimaldi, University of Cassino and the Southern Lazio, Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, Italy, [email protected]

Pierluigi Rippa, University of Naples Federico II, Department of Industrial Engineering, Italy, [email protected]

Start-ups play a key role in innovation processes (Hunt, 2013). According to the well-known definition by Steve Blank a start-up is a company, a partnership or temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model (Blank 2010). Through the start-up phase, new ideas are brought to the market and transformed in economically sustainable enterprises. Existing research indicates that forming relationships with external partners is a priority for the success of start-ups (Teece 2010, Pangarkar and Wu 2012, Kask and Linton 2013, Perez et al., 2013).

The Open Innovation paradigm (Chesbrough 2003, Carlsson and Corvello 2011, Grimaldi et al. 2013, West et al. 2014, Brunswicker and Vanhaverbeke 2014)) provides a context to understand how start-ups contribute to innovation processes. Open Innovation sees the management of innovation processes as “the use of purposeful inflows and outflows of knowledge” (Chesbrough et al. 2006). Start-ups’ success depends on these knowledge flows in several ways: they develop and bring to the market innovations that affect and are affected by the products, services and business models of other organizations, in particular large, incumbent firms (Perez et al. 2013, Kask and Linton, 2013) they are often part of geographical or virtual clusters of firms (Pe’er and Keil 2013); they can be supported and influenced by people, institutions and other organizations (including business angels, venture capitalists and research institutions), forming a so-called start-up ecosystem (Henton and Held 2013).

A complex network of knowledge flows between firms emerges, that needs to be managed and affects the internal choices of the start-up company. While several existing studies have examined the impact of partnerships and networks on the decision to start a new venture (Vissa 2012) and on the outcomes of entrepreneurial processes (Chang 2004), a research gap still exists regarding the mutual influence between the start-ups management decisions and open innovation processes. There is a lack of both theoretical models and empirical findings to enhance our understanding of: 1) the implications of managerial decisions for the activation, development and exploitation of knowledge inflows and outflows; 2) the implications of the context (partnerships, networks, clusters and ecosystems) on the managerial choices in start-ups; 3) the implications of the alignment between strategy and context for the performance of start-up companies.

The goal of this special issue is to stimulate the discussion and collect theoretical studies, surveys and case studies on managing start-ups in an open innovation context. Understanding the mutual influence between start-ups managers’ decisions and innovation flows is key to both the research field of start-ups management and open innovation. Managers of start-ups would highly benefit form knowledge developed by research on these topics. Policy makers would also gain new insight into a topic of crucial importance for fostering innovation.

Authors are invited to submit theoretical and empirical papers that would contribute to fulfilling the aims of the special issue.

Topics of interest include but are not limited to:

Collaboration-driven business model innovation;
Start-up strategies and innovation ecosystems;
Knowledge networks among start-ups;
Exploratory and exploitative activities start-ups;
Adapting and reconfiguring intangible resources;
Networking, partnerships and outsourcing strategies for start-ups;
Opening the black box: the co-creative start-up;
Technologies enabling collaboration;
New modes of value creation through collaboration;
The role of Intermediaries, innomediaries and incubators enhancing open innovation;
Hi tech vs low tech new ventures: knowledge and innovation tasks.
Performance of start-ups
Relationships management and the start-up development lifecycle.


Blank, S. (2010), What’s a start-up? First Principles. Retrieved October 21, 2014

Brunswicker, S., & Vanhaverbeke, W. (2014). Open innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs): External knowledge sourcing strategies and internal organizational facilitators. Journal of Small Business Management

Carlsson and Corvello (2012), Guest editorial. Special issue on Open Innovation. European Journal of Innovation Management, 14(4): 408-411.

Chang S.J. (2004), Venture capital financing, strategic alliances, and the initial public offerings of Internet startups Journal of Business Venturing 19: 721–741.

Chesbrough, H., (2003a). Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Chesbrough, H., Vanhaverbeke, W., & West, J. (2006). Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Grimaldi, M., Quinto, I., Rippa, P. (2013), Enabling Open Innovation in Small and Medium Enterprises: A Dynamic Capabilities Approach,  Knowledge and Process Management, 20(4): 199-210.

Hardwick, J. Anderson, A.R., Cruickshank, D. (2013), Trust formation processes in innovative collaborations: Networking as knowledge building practices. European Journal of Innovation Management, 16 (1): 4-21.

Henton D, Held K (2013) The dynamics of Silicon Valley: Creative destruction and the evolution of the innovation habitat. Social Science Information 52(4): 539–557.

Hunt, R.A. (2013), Entrepreneurial tweaking: An empirical study of technology diffusion through secondary inventions and design modifications by start-ups. European Journal of Innovation Management, 16 (2): 148-170.

Kask J, and Linton G. (2013) Business mating: when startups get it right, Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship, 26:5, 511-536.

Pe'er A., Keil, T. (2013). Are all startups affected similarly by clusters? Agglomeration, competition, firm heterogeneity, and survival, Journal of Business Venturing, Volume 28, Issue 3, Pages 354-372

Perez L., Whitelock J., Florin J., (2013). Learning about customers: Managing B2B alliances between small technology startups and industry leaders", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 47 Iss: 3/4, pp.431 – 462.

Vissa, B.  (2012). Agency in action: Entrepreneurs' networking style and initiation of economic exchange. Organization Science, 23(2), 492-510.

West, J., Salter, A., Vanhaverbeke, W., & Chesbrough, H. (2014). Open innovation: The next decade. Research Policy, 43(5), 805-811.

Publication Schedule

• Manuscript submission: 15 October 2015
• Reviewer reports: 30 December 2015
• Final paper submission: 15 April 2016
• Anticipated publication date of the special issue electronic form October 2016
• Anticipated publication date of the special issue print January 2017

All submissions must be done through ScholarOne:

Authors Bio

Vincenzo Corvello, PhD, is assistant professor at the Department of Mechanical, Energy and Management Engineering, University of Calabria. His research interests are in the fields of innovation processes organization and management, organizational theory and design, project management. He published papers in international journals like International Journal of Production Economics, International Journal of Technology Management and Innovation, European Journal of Innovation Management and chapters in international books. He is co-founder and CEO of Beautiful Mind S.r.l., an academic spin-off of the University of Calabria. He is member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the European Journal of Innovation Management.

Michele Grimaldi is an Assistant Professor at the University of Cassino and Southern Lazio. He received his Master in Industrial Engineering in 2003. In 2005 he received his PhD in Industrial and Management Engineering from the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Italy. He has published several papers in conference proceedings and international journals. His current research field concerns knowledge management and innovation management.

Pierlugi Rippa is Assistant Professor in the School of Managerial Engineering at Federico II University of Naples, Italy. He received his PhD in Business Management at the Engineering Faculty of the Federico II. He spent a period as Visiting Researcher at California State University, Chico, USA and at Wayne State University, Michigan. His research interests include open innovation and SMEs, Knowledge Management Systems, Information System Management, ERP systems. He received two awards for best paper in two different international conferences. He is 2014 president elect of Global Information and Technology Management Association.