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

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

As companies grow and the internal allocation of resources becomes more intricate, 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 novel projects from corporate entrepreneurs 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, individually or in teams, develop to avoid premature termination, test first ideas and new business solutions by finding new opportunities to pursue their projects ‘in the shadow’ of the formal organization. While prior research has provided first descriptions of the bootlegging phenomenon as well as suggested some of its antecedents, we lack an understanding of how the process of managing and ‘surfacing’ bootlegging projects differs from managing ‘official’ innovation project,. We draw on a comprehensive study of 15 bootlegging projects in a leading multinational technology-driven organization. Therefore, this study focusses on the different aspects of bootlegging project transfer and implementation processes. Firstly, the study sheds light on the challenges that bootlegging projects face during development and allocation of resources. Secondly, we examine how corporate entrepreneurs surface and official announce their projects in order to integrate them back into the formal organization. Thirdly, comparative analyses of these cases provide insights how corporate entrepreneurs exploit new internal ways, which result in novel strategies to transfer and implement bootlegging projects. We detail these uncovered strategies, which include (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
Faculty:
Economie et Services
School:
HEG-FR
Subject(s):
Economie/gestion
Publisher:
Tallinn, Estonia, 5-7 July 2018
Date:
2018-07
Tallinn, Estonia
5-7 July 2018
Pagination:
33 p.
Published in:
Proceedings of the 34th European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Colloquium 2018
Appears in Collection:

Note: The status of this file is: restricted


 Record created 2018-10-29, last modified 2019-06-11

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