Prior literature suggests that significant internal R&D resources are needed to leverage suppliers for innovation and that external knowledge sources can be used to complement the internal knowledge base. Based on the analysis of four inbound open innovation projects at Fortum, a multinational energy utility company, we argue that companies with low R&D intensity may adopt an alternative approach which aims at substituting - not merely complementing - internal R&D with external innovations. We adopt the absorptive capacity perspective while investigating the cases and focus on four distinct capabilities: acquisition, assimilation, transformation, and exploitation. We find that the substitution approach consists of short-term research on new technological areas in order to gain the ability to identify and evaluate alternative technologies, as well as joint business models and operations based on complementary capabilities between the parties. The cases also suggest that the innovation process requires significant collaboration and the buying company's supplier management capabilities may improve the success of inbound open innovation projects of this type.
|Journal||Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management|
|Early online date||26 Aug 2017|
|Publication status||Published - 26 Oct 2017|
|MoE publication type||A1 Journal article-refereed|
- Absorptive capacity, Supplier innovation, Open innovation, Multiple case study, R&D intensity