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Title: Exploring the role of knowledge processing capabilities to leverage external knowledge for the fuzzy front-end (FFE)
Author: Bashir, Naheed
ISNI:       0000 0004 9354 0355
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2019
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With a scenario of increasing hyper-competition and globalization, firms have started collaborating with external knowledge sources to conduct innovation and develop new products. By including customers, suppliers, competitors, social media, universities, and other external sources of expertise in the product development process, firms gain access to knowledge that otherwise would have been out of reach. Despite the importance of external knowledge for the New Product Development (NPD) or for innovative firms, little research has examined which capabilities are the most relevant for a firm to gain high-valuable knowledge. This PhD thesis provides an empirical examination of those capabilities that leverage external knowledge for the idea generation (FFE) phase of the NPD process in the context of large firms. Forty-six semi-structured interviews with executives from marketing, R&D, and consumer intelligence departments from the FMCG and technology industries were completed and thematic analysis in NVivo 11 was conducted. The results have shown that leveraging external knowledge for the FFE is largely subject to firms' knowledge-processing capabilities, such as specialised staff for knowledge identification, acquisition, and sharing for the FFE. In order for a firm to perform efficiently and effectively, such specialised staff may need an independent department solely dedicated to the function of acquiring external knowledge. Having such capabilities also helps create incremental or radical innovations. The work thus goes further and argues that firms must develop strong ties with new external sources, especially in technological settings, to leverage valuable knowledge, particularly in situations with high knowledge requirements. However, a careful assessment not only of the potential advantages, but also of the disadvantages associated with each of the external knowledge sources, especially significant costs and risks, is necessary before allocating additional investments. In addition, firms' strategic attention for a supportive open innovation culture would be important aspects for the FFE. This study contributes to the literature of open innovation by first, identifying the potential knowledge sources for the FFE. Second, it contributes to the literature of dynamic capabilities by identifying the knowledge-processing capabilities to leverage external knowledge for the FFE, and by investigating the role of knowledge-processing capabilities to create incremental/radical innovations. Third, using the LinkedIn application for data collection, it contributes to research methodology by exploring an additional set of information to identify relevant respondents on LinkedIn, i.e. by the designation of the participant. Lastly, a practical implication here is that firms with well-developed knowledge-processing capabilities are well equipped to renew their knowledge assets and exploit their existing assets in order to develop innovative products. Study limitations include lack of access to firms in other industries so as to examine the applicability of the results (i.e. knowledge sources, and capabilities to leverage external knowledge for the FFE) in other settings.
Supervisor: Papamichail, Konstantinia ; Malik, Khaleel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: External Knowledge ; Knowledge Processing Capabilities ; FFE ; NPD