Temporality, temporariness and keystone actor capabilities in innovation ecosystems
Journal article, 2022

The last years have witnessed a growing scholarly interest in innovation ecosystems, including how keystone actors establish and orchestrate collaborative innovation. In parallel, temporary collaborative innovation efforts are becoming increasingly important to address societal problems. Temporary structures are also used to create a sense of urgency to prompt change. Thus, innovation ecosystems often incorporate temporary structures. However, while keystone actor capabilities to orchestrate an ecosystem over its lifecycle have been studied, the needs for capabilities to coordinate multiple parallel processes with different temporal logics have not been addressed. In this paper, we contribute to the literature on innovation ecosystems in industrial marketing research by examining the challenges and opportunities associated with temporary structures in an innovation ecosystem. Furthermore, we theorize on the implications for the keystone actor orchestration capabilities. The paper is based on a longitudinal case study of a construction project that was used by a keystone actor to gain momentum in its innovation work. Fourteen innovation projects, each involving external partners, were connected to the construction project. We conclude that temporary structures are powerful to enhance innovation, but that preparation is essential to enable the seizing of opportunities in a collaborative and transitory context. Specific orchestration capabilities relate to integrating a linear, time-bound logic with an iterative innovation logic, and to matching ambitions in at the temporary systems with capabilities at the level of the permanent organizations. An important aspect is to find a balance between temporary external resources and long-term internal resources.

Keystone actor

Ecosystem management

Innovation ecosystems

Interorganizational collaboration

Temporary organization


León Poblete

Uppsala University

Anna Kadefors

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Service Management and Logistics

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Kamilla Kohn Rådberg

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Entrepreneurship and Strategy

Pernilla Gluch

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Service Management and Logistics

Industrial Marketing Management

0019-8501 (ISSN)

Vol. 102 301-310

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Construction Management

Business Administration



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