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Intervention intermediaries flourish: matching firms with solutions to complex needs

Tuba Bakici (ESC Rennes School of Business, Rennes, France)
Esteve Almirall (ESADE Business School, Barcelona, Spain)

Journal of Business Strategy

ISSN: 0275-6668

Article publication date: 17 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explore the main models of innovation intermediaries as determined by the matching mechanisms they offer as a service to organizations, and to reveal underlying limitations of each mechanism to have a better understanding of their appropriateness for organizational requests.


This paper reports an exploratory study of 51 online innovation intermediaries using semi-structured interviews, supported with direct observation, scientific papers and official documentary sources.


The overall findings suggest that innovation intermediaries are not homogeneous, are evolving and that the underlying mechanisms with which they support their operations vary substantially, depending on the size of the community, platform design (collaboration vs non-collaboration) and reward conditions. The study identifies five mechanisms on which the models are based: broadcast search (directed and undirected), brainstorming with ranking (directed and undirected), networking/connecting, expert group and licensing out. Some of the underlying tensions and limitations of these mechanisms are also explored as are the managerial implications for the choice and use of innovation intermediaries.


This paper identifies distinct models of online innovation intermediaries in significantly more depth than what has been presented so far. In addition, it discusses their limitations as a mechanism and their use to achieve a better match between innovation intermediaries and needs of solution-seeker companies.



Bakici, T. and Almirall, E. (2017), "Intervention intermediaries flourish: matching firms with solutions to complex needs", Journal of Business Strategy, Vol. 38 No. 4, pp. 21-29.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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