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INTERMEDIATION FOR OPEN INNOVATION: COMPARING DIRECT VERSUS DELEGATED SEARCH STRATEGIES OF INNOVATION INTERMEDIARIES

    Intermediaries are an inherent part of value creation in open innovation. They connect organisations seeking external solutions for an innovation-related problem (seekers) with potential solution providers (solvers). To bridge between the innovation problem and external knowledge sources, intermediaries deploy different search strategies. This study compares the cost of using two prevalent approaches: direct versus delegated search. Direct search corresponds to the conventional understanding of search by screening a pre-identified set of solution providers that the intermediary has identified as potentially relevant contributors. Delegated search comprises more indirect search such as problem broadcasting or crowdsourcing. Here, the innovation problem is distributed to a large external network of potential solvers, allowing even unobvious outsiders to contribute to its solution. An empirical study of 53 open innovation intermediaries indicates that delegated search outperforms direct search in terms effectiveness. The lower overall effort for intermediation in delegated search mainly arises from decoupling the effort to coordinate the search process by shifting it towards the solution provider.

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    Published: 4 June 2019
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