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Paper info: Living labs fostering innovations in the retail industry:A network perspective


Living labs fostering innovations in the retail industry:A network perspective


Mika Westerlund
Helsinki School of Economics
Mika Westerlund and
Seppo Leminen
Helsinki School of Economics
Seppo Leminen

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 24th IMP-conference in Uppsala, Sweden in 2008.


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This paper focuses on living labs and their underlying innovation networks. A recently emerged concept of living laboratory, or 'living lab', has quickly attracted science and practice communities. Living labs can be understood as user-centric environments for open innovation. However, prior empirical research on the living labs is scarce and literature lacks understanding on what the living lab innovation model actually is. Our study focuses this research gap by contributing to the discussions of collaborative innovation development and innovation networks in the living lab context. Thus, our aim is to describe what the living lab model is from the network perspective. Moreover, we identify the key actors and their roles in a retail industry living lab and analyze the participants' motives to join the innovation network. Finally, we discuss how living labs promote service innovation development through a case study. According to our findings, living labs are effective way of innovation development. Yet, they have many challenges and paradoxes related to the living lab network. Firms need to take these paradoxes into account if they pursue making progress in the development. First, it is crucial to be able to balance between the flexibility and stability. Second, all parties should understand the distinction between the "open world" and the "closed world". Third, actors in the living lab network need to balance between their individual needs and the common needs.