Stakeholder management in complex innovation processes

Addressing major global challenges, such as climate change, requires innovative solutions that could affect various business sectors and institutions. In this context, the importance of the urban space as an innovation object increases, because this space, as a center of social life, and financial and industrial activities, includes large consumers of resources and energy. Consequently, innovations that address innovative urban restructuring are complex. They are developed in a multi-stakeholder ecosystem, where the creation, combination, and recombination of knowledge are distributed among heterogeneous ecosystem stakeholders. Thus, an organization must have specific capabilities to develop complex innovations in such close multi-stakeholder collaborations involving unknown interactions and producing unpredictable reactions like stakeholder opposition. Furthermore, multi-stakeholder ecosystems require new project management approaches. Therefore, this cumulative PhD thesis aims to reveal the mechanisms and contingencies of these stakeholder-related innovation processes, as seen from the perspective of the organization (i.e., organizational capabilities for multi-stakeholder management) and the ecosystem (i.e., project management of the multi-stakeholder collaborations). The results of this PhD thesis emphasize that complex innovations, such as service and urban innovations, rely on flexible and adaptive stakeholder collaboration. Complex innovations have high information requirements that organizations meet through IT, as a structural mechanism for ecosystem stakeholders’ information processing. Intensive IT use positively influences the performance of complex innovation, but organizations have problems establishing IT infrastructures and using digital tools for internal and external stakeholder involvement. Although digital tools encourage stakeholder information gathering and processing through intensive stakeholder involvement, they also increase the need to coordinate broad stakeholder involvement in urban innovation. Further, the innovativeness and implementation of urban innovations profit from intensive stakeholder involvement, but only if the involved stakeholders are well-chosen since too broad stakeholder involvement may produce the opposite result. However, the attitude of stakeholders is a criterion to prioritize them and emphasizes the importance of a constructive opposition. Skeptical stakeholder involvement increases the degree of innovativeness and the implementation of the innovation. Moderate levels of formal management support (skeptical) stakeholder involvement, but too high levels of formalization hamper the development of an absorptive capacity.


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