It is increasingly common for firms to engage in both external and internal search practices to access diverse inputs for innovation. An example is represented by the implementation of both external and internal crowdsourcing (CS) within the same organization to access ideas and solutions coming from the external crowd of customers and internal employees. Arguably, these platforms can be seen as forms of open and closed innovation search, where external CS is directed at performing distant search beyond the organizational boundaries, while internal CS is used to conduct local search within the firm to build upon existing knowledge bases. Nevertheless, limited attention has been placed on investigating which tensions emerge when firms combine these conflicting innovation search strategies and related management approaches to address them. We build on the paradox theory to shed more light on this important question. By drawing on a qualitative, inductive case study of a large organization headquartered in France, our study identifies and discusses three key paradoxes emerging from pursuing both innovation forms: (1) paradox of identity, due to conflicting innovation values and multiple roles R&D employees have to adhere to; (2) paradox of organizing the innovation process, emerging from conflicting design requirements; and (3) paradox of boundary management, emerging from employees having to value both internal and external knowledge. Moreover, we discuss the use of different management approaches (integration, differentiation and acceptance) implemented by managers in the attempt to address the identified paradoxes. Implications for innovation management research and practice are discussed.
Internal Fab Labs are corporate dedicated innovation entities. They attract the attention of an increasing number of firms. The literature explains it by pointing out the many benefits of implementing an internal Fab Lab, such as exploration innovation. Nevertheless, a recent study shows that most of firms fail to implement internal Labs and little is known about it. Some academics suggest that to be sustained, internal Fab Labs must be legitimate. In other words, they have to be accepted and perceived as desirable by the adopting firm. However, legitimating an internal Fab Lab could be difficult, even paradoxical as these entities allow firms to think “out of the box”, away from their norms. This exploratory research begins to fill this gap by considering the single case study of the i-Lab, the internal Fab Lab of Air Liquide. We show that legitimacy is key to support an internal Fab Lab’s implementation. In addition, we identify 3 main challenges to overcome in order to build legitimacy for such an entity: (a) the management of geographical the distance with R&D site, (b) the creation of organizational proximity with R&D units and (c) value creation.