Hidden innovation projects : when is the right time to surface?

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

As internal allocation of resources becomes more elaborate, 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 challenges due to which they are often not initiated at all or terminated internally before reaching sufficient maturity to go into production and market launch. Management research has recently started describing such hidden initiatives, 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 phenomenon as well as suggested some of its antecedents, an understanding of the process, during development and surfacing compare to official project, of bootlegging projects is largely missing. This study focusses on bootlegging project processes and, more specifically, on the challenges that bootlegging projects face during development and allocation of resources and surfaced and official announced 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 barriers that bootlegging projects may face and deriving propositions how they can be overcome by (i) strategic networking, (ii) targeted embedding, and (iii) actionable selling. Implications are derived for the emergent research on bootlegging as well as for fostering novel and radical innovation in established organizations.

Conference Type:
full paper
Economie et Services
New York, USA, 12-14 June 2017
New York, USA
12-14 June 2017
31 p.
Published in:
Proceedings of the DRUID17 Conference
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 Record created 2017-10-31, last modified 2020-10-27

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