To read this content please select one of the options below:

The effect of network structure on radical innovation in living labs

Seppo Leminen (RDI-Unit, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Espoo, Finland, and Department of Marketing, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland)
Anna-Greta Nyström (School of Business and Economics, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland)
Mika Westerlund (Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)
Mika J. Kortelainen (RDI-Unit, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, Espoo, Finland)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 4 July 2016




This study aims to focus on living labs as a means of achieving radical innovation by discussing the differences in their network structure and its effect on the type of innovation outcome.


This research analyses 24 living labs in four countries using qualitative methods.


A specific network structure referred to as a distributed multiplex supports radical innovation in living labs, while distributed and centralized network structures support incremental innovations. Also, the results suggest that radical innovation depends on the driving actor and objectives in a living lab.

Research limitations/implications

A bias on the perceived novelty of innovation may exist when analyzing data collected through interviews with a limited number of living lab participants compared to a large number of informants. This study proposes a two-dimensional framework based on the network structure to investigate innovation in living labs.

Practical implications

This paper offers a classification tool to identify, categorize and make sense of organizations’ participation in open innovation networks and in living labs.


The study provides evidence that, although the distributed multiplex network structure supports the emergence of radical innovations, the distributed and centralized network structures support incremental innovation. A combination of a provider- or utilizer-driven living lab and a distributed multiplex network structure, with a clearly defined and future-oriented strategic objective, offers good potential for radical innovation to occur.



The authors gratefully appreciate the two anonymous blind reviewers and the guest editors for their valuable comments, suggestions and guidelines to improve this article. Special thanks are also extended to all of the interviewed persons, who kindly shared their knowledge and experience as stakeholders in living labs.


Leminen, S., Nyström, A.-G., Westerlund, M. and Kortelainen, M.J. (2016), "The effect of network structure on radical innovation in living labs", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 31 No. 6, pp. 743-757.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles