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Successful management of diverse corporate innovation communities

Angela Roth (Institute of Information Systems, FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg, Nuremberg, Germany)
Martin Dumbach (Institute of Information Systems, FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg, Nuremberg, Germany)
Barbara Schliffka (Institute of Information Systems, FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg, Nuremberg, Germany)
Kathrin M. Möslein (Group Innovation and Entrepreneurship, HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, Leipzig, Germany) (Institute of Information Systems, FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg, Nuremberg, Germany)

Journal of Strategy and Management

ISSN: 1755-425X

Article publication date: 20 February 2017




Increasing demographic diversity within societies and workforces causes challenges with regard to the innovation performance of companies. By definition, innovation communities nowadays are composed of members with diverse function background and age diversity. The challenging question is how to manage diverse corporate innovation communities. The purpose of this paper is to find out which factors determine the success of corporate innovation communities in times of demographic shifts.


The empirical field to answer the research question are three corporate innovation communities in companies of different industries and size. Multiple case study methodology is applied to gather and analyse the data.


The study presents an empirically derived framework to structure success factors of diverse corporate innovation communities chronologically in the three phases of preparation, execution and finalization of a community work process. The success factors are described in detail and finally a time sequential guideline for those who are responsible for community management in demographic change is provided.

Research limitations/implications

It is contributed to the literature on innovation communities and it is shown that innovation communities are not only an instrument to solve innovation tasks but are also a promising means to tackle other challenges of recent demographic changes. As limitation must be considered, that the analysed innovation communities only received corporate support for a short period of time and the supporting organizations operate in manufacturing industries in Germany only.

Practical implications

The paper highlights that managers need to be aware that diversity in corporate innovation communities per se does not lead to success. Furthermore, a guideline of success factors for managers of diverse corporate innovation communities is presented which highlights important aspects that managers need to consider during the community work process.

Social implications

Due to demographic shifts in Germany and other European countries, societies in general and workforces in particular have modified. Most pervasive shifts take place with regard to age structures and diversity. Implications how manager could handle diversity successfully are therefore of high relevance for societies.


This study provides a theoretical understanding of the implications of organizational and age diversity on corporate innovation community management. Extant authors have already focussed on success factors in innovation communities and diverse settings isolated, but have not merged these issues.



Roth, A., Dumbach, M., Schliffka, B. and Möslein, K.M. (2017), "Successful management of diverse corporate innovation communities", Journal of Strategy and Management, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 2-18.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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