Home / Research / Cluster 2 / Theme 5

European business innovation

Contact University of Deusto for this project

Cristina Iturrioz Landart
Faculty of Economic and Business Administration - ESTE
University of Deusto
Mundaiz, 50
20012 San Sebastian - Spain
Phone: +34 943 326 278

Contact Tilburg University for this project

Niels Noorderhaven
Professor of International Management
Center of Innovation Research
Tilburg University
Phone: +31 13 466 3186
Fax: +31 13 466 8354

University of Deusto

Within the research team of Business competitiveness and economic development of the Faculty of Business and Economics of the University of Deusto, there is a line on innovation. This group is made up of 18 researchers. The group┐s analysis is focused on competitiveness in relation to structural factors (ownership size and business groups, production specialization) as well as accompanying organisational policies and behaviour (innovation, entrepreneurship, cooperation networks and clusters), in the context of the conditions for business competitiveness and economic development.

The team has, therefore, articulated the following research programme along four key lines deemed necessary for business competitiveness: innovation, entrepreneurship or entrepreneur capacity, cooperation networks and clusters and small and medium-scale enterprises or business groups. Furthermore, these four key areas are interrelated in multiple ways and, consequently, merit deeper study and analysis:
- The elemental role of innovation at the root of business creation and development, the principal motor being the entrepreneurship of society.
- The elemental role of cooperation in generating knowledge and business, a strategy that permits companies to overcome limits of dimension and scale and to create formulas for territorial development and business creation.
- Business growth via business groups and the relation between small and medium-scale enterprises as critical factors in the maximization of opportunities.
- Corporate social responsibility of organisations as elemental promoters of cooperation via innovation and the creation of business projects.

Tilburg University

This key theme deals with strengthening and supporting innovation strategies and the organization of innovation, in particular in the profit sector. European business innovation depends on the innovative activities of European firms. These firms have to make fundamental decisions regarding their organizational knowledge base for long-term competitiveness. Firms need to strike a balance between exploitative and explorative activities that fits the dynamics of their competitive environment. Regarding explorative activities, geared to the renewal of products, services, processes, technologies or organizational solutions, innovation strategy pertains to the nature, selection and timing of projects to be undertaken and their commercialization, as well as governance choices between in-house research, collaborative research, or buying new solutions on the market (e.g., in the form of licensing).

Finding the optimal balance between exploitation and exploration and between modes of governance is a key factor for long-term innovative and competitive success. The organization of project portfolios over time and the translation of outcomes of R&D projects into substantial turnover shares of business units is an ongoing concern threatening the persistence of innovation. This implies that the ability to organize innovation is indispensable for successful innovation strategies.

So far most of the research in this area has been rather descriptive and conceptual; whereas modelling (e.g., game theory and evolutionary theory) has enormously advanced, empirical research and measurement are still in a nascent stage. Research in this key theme will focus on specific issues in (organizational) learning theory related with innovation. An important avenue of research is the enrichment of existing theories such as the resource-based theory of the firm with concrete empirical measures for knowledge development, combination, transfer, and accumulation. Another important area for research ties learning achievements to specific structural and process characteristics of the organizational environment, with the aim to discover ways to optimize learning and innovation.

Relevance to future of European societies
Innovation is high on the political agenda in Europe. In a globalizing world the competitive position of mature economies depends on their capacity for renewal. The future welfare of Europe depends not only on the capability to achieve technological breakthroughs, but also on the valorisation of these inventions, on the aptitude of organizations to learn, and on the capacity to achieve the social, managerial and institutional innovations necessary for sustainable growth.
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