A Relational Communication Strategy for Successful Collaborative Innovation in Business-to-Business Markets

  • Thomas O’Toole
  • Mary T. Holden


This chapter contributes to our understanding of interorganisational relationships (IORs) through the presentation of a relational communication strategy that incorporates a set of propositions about the features and mechanisms of the communication process in successful collaborative innovation. We propose that relational communication provides the lubrication to the process of collaborative innovation facilitating border-less interaction between parties. We examine the nature of collaborative innovation and the importance of communication to collaborative innovation’s effective functioning in relationships. Features of our relational communication strategy in densely knit partnerships considered to be important in a successful collaborative innovation setting, include: (1) high frequency, bidirectionality, informality, and indirect modalities; (2) high communication quality, dense participation, and openness of information sharing of tacit and implicit knowledge; and (3) a shared meaning base and an open communication climate. The mechanisms that we propose that firms can and do use to increase the effectiveness of communication in successful collaborative innovation include: (1) interpersonal modes of communication and affiliation; (2) loose team structures; (3) electronic virtual communities and open information repositories; and (4) interorganisational communities of practice. Numerous examples and case vignettes are presented in order to support the need to focus attention on these issues.


Tacit Knowledge Virtual Community Relational Communication Boundary Spanner 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-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT)WaterfordIreland

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