“Looking for allies: how individuals organize collaboration for experimentation outside routine work in corporate firms”
(PhD Student in Corporate Entrepreneurship & Innovation, King’s College London)
Companies often establish structured innovation programs such as intrapreneurship programs and idea challenges to harness employee creativity and enable them to experiment with new ideas. Nevertheless, employees often also take initiative to work on ideas outside such formal organizational structures to introduce innovations for the company or generate organizational change, and, as they do so, they face particular constraints. This study explores inductively how individuals mobilize support and build the conditions that allow them to develop venture ideas targeting innovation outside routine work in incumbent firms. We use the lens of experimental spaces as ways of bounded social spaces to better understand how individuals organize interaction and support through different forms of boundary work to develop their ideas. Drawing on an embedded multiple case study of six wildcard ventures in a large multinational company in the personal care industry, we identify two forms of organizing collaboration that nurture nascent corporate experimentation: community-nurtured and opportunity-nurtured collaboration. The two forms emerge through the effects of different social processes and network mobilizing strategies to enable resource combinations which shape entrepreneurial experimentation activities. Hence, this study provides a more nuanced understanding of the unfolding dynamics of interaction, collaboration, and learning enabling alternative organizing forms for collaboration that nurture nascent entrepreneurial ideas in organizations.