The challenge of unforeseen uncertainties in exploratory projects requires the lead firm in a project alliance to effectively manage exploratory co-innovation. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the types of capabilities a lead firm required in exploratory projects and how these capabilities enable the exploratory innovation of the project alliance.
A multiple-case study was done to provide empirical evidence for the rationale of the capabilities of the lead firm. The provided analysis used abductive reasoning of two typical exploratory projects in China.
This paper identifies two types of capabilities: innovation-related capabilities and network-related capabilities. Furthermore, a process model of the capabilities of the lead firm is developed that enables exploratory co-innovation in a project alliance. The capabilities of the lead firm input varied at four different stages.
Innovation-related capabilities and network-related capabilities could form the foundation for the lead firm in an exploratory project alliance. This will enable an exploratory co-innovation and collaboratively overcome the barriers of exploratory projects.
Although exploratory project attracts extensive attention for its unique characteristics and universal value, there is limited amount of research on the context of joint exploratory projects. This study starts from the role of lead firm in an exploratory project alliance, contributes toward the comprehension of the link between the lead firm’s capabilities and the process of exploratory co-innovation. The findings will be of value in supporting the management of exploratory innovation in a project alliance.
The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest. This publication has been developed and reproduced with grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71772024); and National Natural Science Foundation of China (71702022, Youth Scholar), and National Natural Science Foundation of China (71702023, Youth Scholar) Copyright (2017). Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited.
Zhu, F., Jiang, M. and Yu, M. (2020), "The role of the lead firm in exploratory projects: How capabilities enable exploratory innovation of project alliances", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 312-339. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMPB-05-2018-0101
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