NTT DoCoMo and innovation through partners

Using the example of a highly successful Japanese mobile phone operator NTT DoCoMo, the article by Krzysztof Klincewicz, published in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, discussed the role of technology companies in establishing private-sector innovation networks and generating new knowledge through partners. NTT DoCoMo skillfully exploited the benefits of the “semi-walled garden” approach (involving technological openness to all parties but preference for trusted partners) and “plural governance” (with constant competition between affiliated and independent partners), thus stimulating the innovativeness of the partner network. The company introduced a software and content platform and pioneered the mobile distribution with partner revenue sharing model, nowadays adopted also in mobile ecosystems of Apple, Google and Microsoft. The research presented challenges that technology companies face when trying to keep partners at the same time loyal and innovative, as trust and reliance on partners are likely to decrease the network’s innovativeness, while competition may erode trust and discourage partners. The research was carried out by Krzysztof Klincewicz during his two years postdoc project at the Tokyo University of Technology (Titech).

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