Keeping alive inter-organisational innovation through identity work and play
Journal article, 2017

This paper discusses how people draw on the strategic interests and motivations of their home organisations in negotiating the activities inter-organisational collaboration for innovation will include. Through presenting ethnographic snapshots of a case involving fifteen partner organisations, the paper explores how members of a coordinating group make sense of the possibilities and constraints for joint work. As they discuss new activities, they engage in identity work and identity play, simultaneously identifying with their home organisations and the meta-organisation. This finding challenges previous research assuming the importance of a coherent and stable collective identity for collaborative work. Instead the author suggests that innovation practitioners leave space for multiple objectives to emerge over time within joint activities in order to keep alive inter-organisational innovation. The author calls for more research into how the interplay of organisational identities enables and constrains the practices of organising for inter-organisational innovation.

identity work



identity play

collaborative innovation

open innovation

Inter-organisational innovation


Jane Webb

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

International Journal of Innovation Management

1363-9196 (ISSN)

Vol. 21 5

Subject Categories

Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics

Social Anthropology

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Areas of Advance



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