Rethinking the role of intermediaries as an architect of collective exploration and creation of knowledge in open innovation
Journal article, 2013

This paper questions the applicability of traditional notions of intermediary activities, which are usually categorized as either brokering or networking, in cases of high uncertainty regarding technologies, markets or which actors to involve. In the case of collaborative open innovation, especially in circumstances when no single organization is able to take on the challenge alone, the activities traditionally associated with intermediation do not suffice to describe what an intermediary can do to support innovation. This paper presents two cases of intermediaries working with the early phases of traffic safety innovations, and how they have managed to develop their activities beyond solely brokering and networking, but also to take an active role in the process of joint exploration and creation of knowledge. We use a qualitative approach to analyze the two cases in order to provide examples of how rethinking intermediation activities can support open innovation in a collaborative setting. The findings suggest that intermediaries can take on a more active role, which could be described as an architect which designs prerequisites and offers leadership in the process of joint exploration and creation of knowledge.

Innovation intermediaries

collaborative innovation

open innovation

case study


Marine Agogué

Mines ParisTech

Anna Yström

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

Pascal Le Masson

Mines ParisTech

International Journal of Innovation Management

1363-9196 (ISSN)

Vol. 17 2 1350007

Areas of Advance


Subject Categories

Other Engineering and Technologies

Other Social Sciences

Driving Forces

Innovation and entrepreneurship



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