Innovation Management

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Innovation through Global Collaboration: A New Source of Competitive Advantage
Alan MacCormack* Theodore Forbath** Peter Brooks ** Patrick Kalaher**

*Harvard Business School, Boston, MA **Wipro Technologies, Product Strategy and Architecture Practice, Boston, MA Copyright © 2007 by Alan MacCormack, Theodore Forbath, Peter Brooks, and Patrick Kalaher. Note: This is one of two papers reporting the results from this research. The other is “From Outsourcing to Global Collaboration: New Ways to Build Competitiveness,” HBS Working Paper 07-080. Working papers are distributed in draft form for purposes of comment and discussion. It may not be reproduced without permission of the copyright holders. Copies are available from the
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Third, different regions of the world have developed unique skills and capabilities, which leading firms are now exploiting for advantage. And finally, advances in development tools and technology combined with the rise of open architectures and standards have driven down the costs of coordinating distributed work. In sum, collaboration is no longer a “nice to have.” It is a competitive necessity.

In this article, we report on a study of the strategies and practices used by firms that achieve greater success in their collaborative innovation efforts. The aim was to build on prior work that provides evidence of the value in a more “open” approach to innovation, and to explore an emerging theme in these studies; that firms must consider more than just lower cost when looking at the benefits from collaboration.1 Our research was

1 Arguments for the value of a more open innovation process are found in Chesbrough (2003) and Iansiti (2004). The business value of collaboration is discussed in Hansen and Nohria (2004). The need to focus on more than just lower cost is made by Santos and Williamson (2004). Eppinger and Chitkara (2006) discuss how to improve the performance of distributed development.


designed to shed light on how firms can use collaboration to create greater business value and to reveal the practices that dictate the effectiveness of these efforts.

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