Recently the locus of competition and innovation has started to shift from the individual firm to firms working together as an ecosystem. One of the key challenges for firms operating in such an ecosystems is to manage knowledge in order to stimulate innovation among members of the ecosystem.
In this paper, we outline a set of capabilities that are built, maintained, and exercised by the lead firm in order to enhance innovation within ecosystems. In particular, we group the knowledge management capabilities into three key areas: (1) knowledge acquisition, (2) knowledge sharing, and (3) knowledge utilization. We make an analogy of innovation ecosystems to how teams work together.
Teamwork is important among firms for such knowledge brokering in order to both generate and integrate knowledge to create value for the firms and customers in a collaborative network. In doing so we highlight three salient tensions that need to be managed across knowledge management capabilities in order to increase the rate of innovation of the ecosystem: autonomy–control, dissent–consent and uncertainty–certainty.
We develop a set of propositions for lead firms on how knowledge management tensions in innovation ecosystems require balancing delegative versus directive leadership so as to provide direction whilst not stifling creativity, in order to stimulate innovation.