Research background

In innovation processes - especially in the creation of new ideas as well as in the development and assessment of idea proposals - relationships between the members of a network play a central role. While the importance of external know-how for a company's ability to innovate has already been recognized and the internal and external relationships within the company have already been discussed, the impact of these relationships on the company's ability to innovate has been lacking so far. This is where the Open Network research project comes in.

Research objective

The research project Open Network therefore aims at measuring and evaluating intra- and extra-enterprise relationships in order to determine their impact on innovation capability. Special focus is put on SMEs - especially these companies should be enabled to control and manage their relationship networks and thus stabilize and improve their innovation capability in the long run.

Development of a software-based assessment tool

The result of the project is the development of a software-supported evaluation tool that enables SMEs to independently record, measure and evaluate relationship networks. In doing so, the tool supports both the decision-making process for the design of relationship networks, but can also be used as a control instrument. In this way, the tool supports managers in identifying key people (so-called promoters) who are responsible for overcoming barriers in the innovation process and thus exert a positive influence on innovation capability. To improve existing processes, recommendations for action are stored in the tool and offered to SMEs on a case-specific basis. The software-supported evaluation system thus represents the central technological innovation of the project, enabling SMEs to evaluate their relationship networks both ex ante and during the innovation process (as a control instrument that can be called up in parallel).

Benefits for the companies

The evaluation tool increases the chance for SMEs to transform the knowledge of individual actors into collective knowledge and to use this knowledge profitably. Through a systematic analysis and visual representation of the relationship networks within the company and beyond the company boundaries, SMEs can uncover informal and hidden expertise within the company and count on time savings and increased competence. In addition, previously weakly networked employees are identified and can be further developed in a targeted manner.

Project partners and funding

The project, which is funded by the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations (AiF), is being carried out by the Chair of Information Systems at the University of Potsdam and partners from research and practice. Partner: Institute for Enterprise Cybernetics e.V., Chair of Technology and Innovation Management at RWTH Aachen University.