Co-innovation and Communication: The Case of SAP’s Global Co-innovation Lab Network

  • Sabine Patsch
  • Ansgar Zerfass


This article describes a company case from the ICT industry and illustrates how collaborative innovation involving several actors is realized and why communication plays a crucial role within this process. Taking a social structural perspective on innovation and communication, it becomes clear that meaning and reality, which are the prerequisites of novelties, are constructed in communicative interactions between companies and their internal and external stakeholders. Consequently, communication cannot be considered as an instrument of innovation management that might be used or dropped in different innovation phases like a tool. The theoretical perspective also underlines that innovation-related actions are influenced by structures: rules and resources enable, modify, and limit innovation actions. The Global Co-Innovation Lab Network (COIL) of SAP, analyzed in the case study, can be seen as a corporate, communicative resource due to its role as an interface between internal and external stakeholders of the company. It enables all parties involved to define framework conditions of a shared co-innovation project and to execute it. Structurally, COIL connects stakeholders across the globe, such as certified or potential SAP partners, users or internals, such as existing and potential units. Therefore, collectively shared structures, like co-innovation projects, are created. They are considered as a prerequisite for future innovation and communicative actions. Based on previous expertise and experiences, COIL helps to specify shared structured for each project and thus enables successful co-innovations.


Open Innovation External Stakeholder Subject Matter Expert Communication Team Collaborative Innovation 
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 International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabine Patsch
    • 1
  • Ansgar Zerfass
    • 2
  1. 1.SAP AGWalldorfGermany
  2. 2.University of LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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