Enacting a liminal space for collaborative innovation: studying brokers as decentralized catalysts (10th International Conference on Organizational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities, Scotland)

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic


Collaborative innovation can be supported by intermediaries that act as brokers. Past research demonstrated how brokers connect actors by synthesizing diverse interpretations and technologies into a coherent outcome. So far, however, there is limited knowledge of how brokers work in settings that are highly dynamic and open-ended, such as in exploratory phases of innovation where needs for contributing actors and innovative possibilities are constantly evolving. Based on a qualitative research at a social innovation agency, we study how brokers enable collaborative innovation in exploratory projects. Employing a practice-oriented approach, our research suggests that brokers act as ‘decentralized catalysts’ in open-ended settings. This means that brokers create and maintain a sense of “in-betweenness” (liminal space). They do so by fluidly moving in and out of innovation processes while addressing emergent needs (morphing) and creating the right conditions for others to be generative (mobilizing).
Period26 Apr 2016
Event title10th International Conference on Organizational Learning, Knowledge and Capabilities
Event typeConference