This paper aims to explore how companies access resources through network relationships when developing service innovations. The paper identifies the types of resource that companies seek from other actors and examines the nature of relationships and resource access strategies that can be applied to access each type of resource.
A longitudinal, multi-case study is conducted in the field of technical business-to-business (b-to-b) services. An abductive research strategy is applied to create a new theoretical understanding of resource access.
Companies seek a range of resources through different types of network relationships for service innovation. Four types of resource access strategies were identified: absorption, acquisition, sharing, and co-creation. The findings show how easily transferable resources can be accessed through weak relationships and low-intensity collaboration. Access to resources that are difficult to transfer, instead, necessitates strong relationships and high-intensity collaboration.
The findings are valid for technical b-to-b services, but should also be tested for other kinds of innovations. Future research should also study how actors integrate the resources gained through networks in the innovation process.
Managers should note that key resources for service innovation may be accessible through a variety of actors and relationships ranging from formal arrangements to miscellaneous social contacts. To make use of tacit resources such as knowledge, firms need to engage in intensive collaboration.
Despite attention paid to network relationships, innovation collaboration, and external resources, previous research has neither linked these issues nor studied their mutual contingencies. This paper provides a theoretical model that characterizes the service innovation resources accessible through different types of relationships and access strategies.
Erratum - It has been brought to Emerald's attention that the article “Accessing resources for service innovation – the critical role of network relationships” published in the Journal of Service Management, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp. 2-29 contains an error introduced in the production process. The name of the second author on this article was incorrectly published as “Aino Halinen-Kaila”. The correct name of the author is “Aino Halinen”. Emerald and its typesetters sincerely apologise for this error. The article has been corrected online.
The authors would like to express their sincere appreciation to Dr Helen Perks and Dr Nicole Coviello for their helpful advice and comments. The authors are also indebted to those who attended the IMP Conference in 2010 and 2011. The authors gratefully acknowledge The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (SERVE program) for financial support.
Rusanen, H., Halinen, A. and Jaakkola, E. (2014), "Accessing resources for service innovation – the critical role of network relationships", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 2-29. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOSM-10-2012-0219Download as .RIS
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