Focus and Approach


Two main theoretical perspectives

We use two main theoretical perspectives in our research: innovation capabilities and business modeling. Companies’ innovation capabilities, in addition to the ability to develop new technology and hence new products, must also include the ability to think innovatively about the entire business offering: business model innovation.

Our research examines the processes firms engage in to create their business offer and, thus, encompasses more than technological research and development, product development, of the innovative conceptual phases within the framework of the existing business logic. Ever more companies today are trying to develop new business models, i.e. fresh solutions for the creation and appropriation of competitive value for the customer. Business model innovation is essential for both large and small firms.

However, research on business model development and the elements required for building and changing innovation capability is relatively limited. Also, business model research tends to be based on retrospective studies of rather grandiose business-model innovations.


Research approach – Collaborative research

CBI researchers work in the context of the emergence of collaborative research as a discipline within management science and we participate in that development. Collaborative research is understood as an approach that involves both company representatives and academic researchers jointly formulating research questions and jointly developing actionable scientific knowledge.

The core characteristics of CBI research approach are company-close research and the co-production of knowledge. The role of the researcher in collaborative research could be seen as two-fold – both to co-create new knowledge together with actors from the studied object (the organization) and to facilitate sense-making of the emerging knowledge by those concerned and enable its application. This implies a need for close co-operation with practitioners.

Three key characteristics of collaborative research can be distinguished: Firstly, a true partnership signifies that the researcher establishes a close and long-term relationship with the company or companies being studied. This enables the development of a contextual understanding of the organization being studied. This longitudinal collaboration builds (and assumes) trust, which is particularly important when the research is focused on the firm’s core capabilities and core issues and requires access to undisclosed areas. A shared language develops between researchers and practitioners which in turn facilitates mutual understanding and mutual learning. From a pure research perspective, the researcher gains access to rich empirical material and core firm processes, resulting in subsequent in-depth understanding.

The second key notion of collaborative research is the emergent and systematic inquiry process that signifies the exploratory character of this type of research. The research problems addressed are not in detail formulated in advance; they emerge and are developed in collaboration with the industry partner as mutual understanding of the knowledge area increases. A combination of academic problem definitions and an industrial perspective on the relevant challenges serve as basis for the joint problem formulation. Within CBI we use the notion circles of interests. Using an abductive approach, revisiting the relevant literature as knowledge on the subject grows, enables a multiperspective knowledge generation process, in which both academics and practicing managers take part.


’Circles of interests’


The third key notion of collaborative research is the generation of actionable scientific knowledge which underlines the production of knowledge relevant to both the research community and managers. Actionable knowledge may be defined as knowledge of action, that is, meaningful for action and easily translated into action by the firm.

To summarize, for CBI collaborative research means:

  • Involves an intent to contribute to change
  • Researchers may intervene
  • Research is always interactive
  • Joint knowledge production
  • Often joint problem formulation
  • Aims at producing actionable knowledge

Published: Thu 06 Dec 2012. Modified: Tue 16 Jun 2015