Lean Start-up in Established Companies: Potentials and Challenges



Lean start-up is an emergent perspective on how entrepreneurs can bring new products and services to the market. This approach challenges the dominant role of lengthy business plans, linear product development processes, and seeking complete overview of the potential of the new products/services before market launch. Instead it suggests that start-ups could benefit from a ‘minimum-viable product’ approach where products and services are launched when they contain critical features. The emphasis in the lean start-up approach is on business models rather than the elaborate business plan. This chapter is based on the in-depth case studies from three established companies that have all sought to employ a minimum-viable product approach to developing and launching new products. The data will consist of rich interview data from the three companies and observations from various events at the companies (strategy meetings, development workshops etc.). The aim is to shed light on the implications for companies that seek to employ lean start-up. These implications will be aimed at aspects like innovation management, organizational structure, customer relations etc.


  1. Aaboen, L., Dubois, A., & Lind, F. (2012). Capturing processes in longitudinal multiple case studies. Industrial Marketing Management, 41(2), 235–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, J. C., Narus, J. A., & Van Rossum, W. (2006). Customer value propositions in business markets. Harvard Business Review, 84(3), 90.Google Scholar
  3. Barczak, G. (2015). Publishing qualitative versus quantitative research. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 32(5), 658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bazeley, P. (2007). Qualitative data analysis with NVivo. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Berends, H., Smits, A., Reymen, I., & Podoynitsyna, K. (2016). Learning while (re)configuring: Business model innovation processes in established firms. Strategic Organization, 14(3), 181–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blank, S. (2013). Why the lean start-up changes everything. Harvard Business Review, 91(5), 64.Google Scholar
  7. Chesbrough, H. (2003). The era of open innovation. MIT Sloan Management Review, 44(3), 35–41.Google Scholar
  8. Chesbrough, H. (2004). Managing open innovation. Research Technology Management, 47(1), 23–26.Google Scholar
  9. Chesbrough, H. (2012). Open innovation where we’ve been and where we’re going. Research-Technology Management, 55(4), 20–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chesbrough, W. H., Vanhaverbeke, W., & West, J. (2006). Open innovation: researching a new paradigm. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Christensen, C. M., Wang, D. N., & van Bever, D. (2013). Consulting on the cusp of disruption. Harvard Business Review, 91(10), 106.Google Scholar
  12. Corley, K. G., & Gioia, D. A. (2004). Identity ambiguity and change in the wake of a corporate spin-off. Administrative Science Quarterly, 49(2), 173–208.Google Scholar
  13. Creswell, J. W. (2006). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  14. Denzin, N. K. (1978). The research act: A theoretical introduction to sociological methods. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  15. Dyer, J. H., Gregersen, H. B., & Christensen, C. (2008). Entrepreneur behaviors, opportunity recognition, and the origins of innovative ventures. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 2(4), 317–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Eisenhardt, K. M. (1989). Building theories from case study research. Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 532–550.Google Scholar
  17. Eisenhardt, K. M., & Graebner, M. E. (2007). Theory building from cases: Opportunities and challenges. Academy of Management Journal, 50(1), 25–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Geertz, C. (1973). Thick description: Toward an interpretive theory of culture. The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays (pp. 3–30). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  19. Gemünden, H. G., Salomo, S., & Hölzle, K. (2007). Role models for radical innovations in times of open innovation. Creativity & Innovation Management, 16(4), 408–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Goduscheit, R. C. (2014). Innovation promoters—A multiple case study. Industrial Marketing Management, 43(3), 525–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gummesson, E. (2003). All research is interpretive. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 18(6/7), 482–492.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Habtay, S. R. (2012). A firm-level analysis on the relative difference between technology-driven and market-driven disruptive business model innovations. Creativity & Innovation Management, 21(3), 290–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hargadon, A., & Sutton, R. I. (1997). Technology brokering and innovation in a product development firm. Administrative Science Quarterly, 42(4), 716.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hauschildt, J., & Kirchmann, E. (2001). Teamwork for innovation–the ‘Troika’ of promotors. R & D Management, 31(1), 41–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kumar, M., & Noble, C. H. (2016). Beyond form and function: Why do consumers value product design? Journal of Business Research, 69(2), 613–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lee, A. S., & Baskerville, R. L. (2003). Generalizing generalizability in information systems research. Information Systems Research, 14(3), 221–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Locke, K. (1996). Rewriting the discovery of grounded theory after 25 years? Journal of Management Inquiry, 5, 239–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Noble, C. H., & Kumar, M. (2010). Exploring the appeal of product design: A grounded, Value-based model of key design elements and relationships. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 27(5), 640–657.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. O’Connor, G. C., & Rice, M. P. (2013). New market creation for breakthrough innovations: Enabling and constraining mechanisms. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 30(2), 209–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Osterwalder, A., & Pigneur, Y. (2010). Business model generation: A handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers. New Jersey, USA: Wiley.Google Scholar
  31. Piekkari, R., Plakoyiannaki, E., & Welch, C. (2010). ‘Good’ case research in industrial marketing: Insights from research practice. Industrial Marketing Management, 39(1), 109–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pullen, A. J., de Weerd-Nederhof, P. C., Groen, A. J., & Fisscher, O. A. (2012). Open innovation in practice: Goal complementarity and closed NPD networks to explain differences in innovation performance for SMEs in the medical devices sector. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 29(6), 917–934.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Siggelkow, N. (2007). Persuation with case studies. Academy of Management Journal, 50(1), 20–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Teece, D. J. (2010). Business models, business strategy and innovation. Long Range Planning, 43(2/3), 172–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. van de Vrande, V., de Jong, J. P. J., Vanhaverbeke, W., & de Rochemont, M. (2009). Open innovation in SMEs: Trends, motives and management challenges. Technovation, 29(6–7), 423–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Vlaar, P. W. L., Van Den Bosch, F. A. J., & Volberda, H. W. (2007). Towards a dialectic perspective on formalization in interorganizational relationships: How alliance managers capitalize on the duality inherent in contracts. Rules and Procedures. Organization Studies, 28(4), 437–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Whetten, D. A. (1989). What constitutes a theoretical contribution? Academy of Management Review, 14(4), 490–495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Yin, R. K. (1994). Case study research: Design and methods. Newsbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark

Personalised recommendations