Grassroots Innovation: A Promising Innovation Paradigm for Pharmaceutical Companies

  • Ulrich A. K. Betz
  • Nuno Camacho
  • Michael Gerards
  • Stefan Stremersch
Part of the International Series in Quantitative Marketing book series (ISQM, volume 20)


Pharmaceutical firms face a period of unparalleled turmoil. Major societal, technological, and regulatory challenges require firms to quickly respond to a rapidly changing environment. In particular, the issue of how to improve R&D productivity is considered the key challenge faced by the pharmaceutical industry nowadays. The core thesis of this chapter is that grassroots innovation programs—structured processes aimed at stimulating employees in all corners of the organization to contribute to innovation efforts—may be an essential complement to pharmaceutical firms’ more traditional and top-down stage gate processes. However, academic research to guide pharmaceutical firms in the implementation of grassroots innovation is scarce. This chapter discusses an in-depth case study of a grassroots innovation process (Innospire) at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. The process design and implementation was based on theoretical derivation, to facilitate the transfer of knowledge to other firms and contexts. Hence, we also discuss our conceptual framework, grounded in self-determination theory, which managers at other pharmaceutical (or any other innovation-intensive) firms can use to design their own grassroots innovation processes. We also discuss a multitude of possible future research directions in this area, with high dual impact to both academia and business.


Intrinsic Motivation Corporate Entrepreneurship Pharmaceutical Firm Business Model Innovation Business Idea 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ulrich A. K. Betz
    • 1
  • Nuno Camacho
    • 2
  • Michael Gerards
    • 3
  • Stefan Stremersch
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Merck Serono, Merck KGaADarmstadtGermany
  2. 2.Erasmus School of EconomicsErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Technology Office Chemicals of Merck KGaADarmstadtGermany
  4. 4.IESE Business SchoolUniversity of NavarraBarcelonaSpain

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