Bootlegging projects in a technology-driven organization : overcoming internal challenges

Stephan, Anika (University of Strasbourg, Faculty of Economics and Management) ; Bubenzer, Philipp (School of Management Fribourg, HES-SO // University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland) ; Fauchart, Emmanuelle (University of Strasbourg, Faculty of Economics and Management)

Companies striving for innovation often struggle to develop and implement radically novel projects that do not fit their established formal organization, logics or routines. Indeed, such projects face significant internal barriers due to which they are often not initiated at all or terminated internally before reaching maturity for production scale - up or market launch. Management research has recently started descri bing secretive strategies, called bootlegging, which entrepreneurial employees develop to avoid premature termination and to pursue their projects ‘in the shadow’ of the formal organization. While prior research has provided first descriptions of the pheno menon as well as suggested some of its antecedents, an understanding of the process of bootlegging is largely missing. This study focusses on bootlegging processes and, more specifically, on the challenges that bootlegging projects face when moving from “s hadow to light”, i.e. when they are announced in order to be integrated back into the formal organization. We draw on a comprehensive study of 15 bootlegging projects in a leading multinational technology - driven organization. Comparative analyses of these cases provide insights into important intervening conditions that bootlegging projects may face and allows deriving propositions how they can be overcome like (i) strategic networking, (ii) targeted embedding, and (iii) actionable selling. Implications are derived for the emergent research on bootlegging as well as for fostering radical innovation in established organizations.

Conference Type:
full paper
Economie et Services
Naples, Italy, 7-9 July 2016
Naples, Italy
7-9 July 2016
31 p.
Published in:
Proceedings of the 32nd European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Colloquium
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 Record created 2016-10-28, last modified 2020-10-27

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