Innovation – bringing something new to the world

Innovation means renewal. It’s the motor of our economy and society. Innovation promotes progress, comfort, and prosperity. It creates competitive advantage. Innovation happens, but not on its own. It’s the result of the creativity and systematic work of individuals or groups and their organizations.

We study the behaviours of people who generate and manage innovation successfully; the attributes of organizations that provide optimal conditions for innovation; and the business environments in which innovative organizations operate. We enable executives to put our research findings to use in order to generate successful innovation, to manage development, to secure legal protection, and to exploit the innovation’s full potential.

Selected research results:

Autonomous driving

“What are the legal implications of the current rapid progress toward vehicle automation?” This pressing question demands a response from the legal perspective. Our study tests the compatibility of the various technical development stages of vehicle automation against existing national and international (road) transport regulations. The continuum reaches all the way to the autonomous, driverless vehicle. In the course of the study, we investigate conflicts in technology, innovation, and law and develop viable solutions. We will address whether and to what degree the historically established division of mobility risk among the various participants in public road transport will remain in tact after the incorporation of automated vehicles. Initial results regarding the permissibility of automated vehicles according to international law indicate that the relevant international treaties do not provide a legal framework for vehicle automation that supplants the human driver. Therefore, we will address the situation by providing recommendations that partially equate vehicle systems with the human driver.

Von Bodungen, B., Hoffmann, M. 2015. Belgien und Schweden schlagen vor: Das Fahrsystem soll Fahrer werden!. NZV, 521-526.

External partners in the innovation process

Many studies have shown that relationships to external partners, such as customers and suppliers, influence companies’ innovativeness. However, virtually no research has focused on the characteristics of external partners. The results show that the innovativeness of the partners has a positive yet diverse influence on a company’s knowledge stock, e.g. in the area of market or technological knowledge.

Moos, B., Wagner, H.-T., Beimborn, D., & Weitzel, T. 2015. The Contagious Power of Innovativeness: How Different Corporate Partners Contribute to a Firm's Knowledge. International Journal of Innovation Management, 19(4), 1-38. [Link]

Knowledge management systems and innovation success

What is the role of Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) for a firm’s innovativeness and absorptive capacity? Previous research showed that absorptive capacity, i.e. a firm’s capacity to acquire and utilize relevant knowledge, is decisive for innovation success. The paper develops a theoretical model that links the availability and usage of KMS with a firm’s absorptive capacity and its organizational knowledge to explain its contribution for a firm’s innovation success. The results show that the availability of a KMS in a firm affects its innovation success by contributing to its absorptive capacity. Looking at the impact of different knowledge types on innovativeness, it becomes clear that only technological knowledge is a substantial determinant of innovation success but not market knowledge.

Moos, B., Beimborn, D., Wagner, H-T. & Weitzel, T. 2013. The role of knowledge management systems for innovation: An absorptive capacity perspective. International Journal of Innovation Management, 17: 1350019. [Link]

Trade mark protection in Europe

Companies invest in trade marks in order to protect their Intellectual Property and to gain a competitive advantage. Trade marks help companies to differentiate their innovations from the offerings of competitors. The Community trade mark is the appropriate instrument to obtain European wide protection. The protection of the Community trade mark is laid down in the Community Trade Mark Regulation. This Commentary is the first systematic English language Commentary concerning this Regulation. It also includes an overview on pre-litigation and judicial practice in all 28 EU Member States. Prof. Dr. Alexandra von Bismarck commented as Co-author  Articles 40-42, dealing with the opposition proceedings. The comprehensive Commentary of the Community Trade Mark Law is a valuable general reference for lawyers and in-house Counsel within and outside Europe.

von Bismarck, A. 2015. Kommentierung der Art. 40-42 CTMR. In G. Hasselblatt (ed.), Community Trade Mark Regulation – A Commentary. München: C.H. Beck, Oxford: Hart, Baden Baden: Nomos.

Research and development in Chinese companies

Chinese companies are characterized by a strong increase in their research and development activities. Since the increases are, at least partially, attributable to political targets and subsidies, it remains unclear whether the increased activity benefits company performance - measured as an increase in productivity. A key finding of the study is that private enterprises generate higher returns from their R & D spending than state-owned enterprises. A different picture emerges with respect to patent applications. The sharp increase in patent applications is accompanied by a declining impact on company performance. For companies in majority state ownership, the number of patent applications became even disconnected from productivity. Not all research activities of Chinese companies can therefore be called a success.

Böing, P., Müller, E. & Sandner, P. Forthcoming. China’s R&D Explosion – Analyzing Productivity Effects Across Ownership Types and Over Time. Research Policy. [Note: The paper is forthcoming. There is not yet a link to the paper.]

Social media

In the age of “open innovation” firms not only rely on internal knowledge but also tap externally generated ideas, for example from customers. Social media and online communities are therefore an important knowledge source for the innovation process of firms. The active use of social media and online communities in organizational settings is constantly on the rise. Social media and community managers take care of these communities. They are responsible for keeping the community alive and for encouraging exchanges between community members. In the literature, the term online community health has been introduced to describe the functioning of the communities. This paper puts forward seven dimensions that make up online community health. Our model enables social media and community managers to systematically evaluate their communities’ state of health. Based on this analysis, community professionals may then think about how to increase the level of activity and how to better exploit the ideas of the community members for the firm’s innovation process.

Wagner, D., Richter A., Trier, M., & Wagner, H-T. 2014. Toward a conceptualization of online community health, Proceedings of the 2014 International Conference on Information Systems. [Link]