Despite the importance of radical innovations (RI), few firms have the capability to develop such innovations internally; success is increasingly linked with relationships and networks. However, the way(s) in which relationships and networks support RI is less clear. Successfully launching RIs requires the development of four distinctive competences; discovery, incubation, acceleration and commercialization. This paper examines how networks support the development of RIs, focusing on when and how network partners become involved and how their role performances support the development of the four competences. The study context is the automotive industry, which is heavily dependent upon RI and complex interrelationships. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with network participants involved in developing several RIs. Five task-oriented and three network-oriented roles are uncovered and the performance of these roles supports the development of different competences, with some roles being exclusively connected with particular competences and others supporting several competences. Focusing on role performance offers a useful means for distinguishing between acontextual actors, and the activities and resources they bring. In doing so, the paper enhances understanding of the links between network participants, role performances and the development of RI competences, and identifies a number of important implications for theory and practice.
- radical innovation
- role performance