Two heads are better than one. Ten heads are better than two. But when it comes to new product development, more heads around the table can mean more innovation, but also more headaches for the partners involved.
That is where Ludwig Bstieler’s research comes in. His work involves improving innovation processes, including the governance of new product development collaborations, stimulating innovation focused on sustainability and its effects on new product development performance, and making industry-university collaborations work.
“My empirical research is based on data coming directly from firms and universities. It aims to inform innovating firms about some of the perils of new product development collaborations and how to overcome these through a careful calibration of contractual versus relational safeguards to build productive and satisfying relationships,” he said.
Most interesting to Bstieler is studying “the difficulty of establishing and maintaining trust” in new product development collaborations that is central for achieving successful collaboration outcomes.
“Firms often face significant difficulties when working together in the sensitive domain of new product development,” said Bstieler. “Just consider the challenges of making open innovation work.”
Factors that complicate this dynamic include partnerships between industry and universities, when the latter don’t adhere to corporate models or practices, and international collaborations between vastly different cultures, which has provided a fascinating finding for Bstieler.
“The major growth in research and development spending takes place in East Asia, thus it makes sense to get acquainted with East Asia’s relational perspective of doing business,” he said. “When collaborating, Western companies often consider a contract as an end in itself, while for East Asian firms, signing a contract marks the beginning of an ongoing process to establish a business relationship. That, in itself, explains many challenges when West meets East.”