The Influence of IT artefacts, collaboration, and open innovation in the success of the front end of innovation

The present study proposes to focus on organizational resources that Weingarten et al. (2013) refer to as non-IT resources. Specifically, the research will investigate how an open innovation climate and external collaboration influence the usage of new media (i.e., project wikis, cloud-based file sharing, and dedicated open innovation tools) and social networking IT (i.e. weblogs, Twitter, and Facebook/LinkedIn/Google Plus) at the front end of innovation.

  1. How do firms use IT tools / artefacts at the front end of innovation to foster improved collaboration?
  2. What challenges are faced by firms in their use of IT tools / artefacts at the front end of innovation to foster improved collaboration?
  3. How can a firm’s resources be reconfigured to incorporate IT tools / artefacts at the front end of innovation to foster improved collaboration?


New product development (NPD) is an information and knowledge intensive business process (Leonard-Barton 1995; Madhavan and Grover 1998), which can be improved by the use of information technology (IT) (McGrath and Iansiti 1998; Nambisan 2003). As a result, IT has become embedded into all phases of the NPD process (Kenly and Poston 2010; Carlson 2012, Reid et al., 2014). These IT systems and tools have migrated from being engineering centric, such as computer-aided-design (CAD) packages, to collaboration and management technologies and platforms (Kietzmann et al. 2011; Pavlou and El Sawy 2006; Marion et al. 2012). The advent of the Internet and low-cost, often mobile computing solutions has generated an ever-increasing variety of platforms, systems and tools that allow increased communication and collaboration between internal team members during the NPD process (Authors 2014; Nambisan 2013). Additionally, new media (e.g., project wikis such as Basecamp), cloud-based file sharing (e.g., Dropbox), dedicated open innovation tools (e.g. Microsoft Sharepoint), and social networking IT (i.e., weblogs, Twitter, and Facebook/LinkedIn/GooglePlus) offer the ability to increase engagement and external collaboration with customers (Culnan et al. 2010; McAfee 2009, reifd et al., 2016), suppliers, and business (Nambisan and Nambisan 2008; Mahr et al. 2014). Thus, these new IT solutions have enabled the NPD process to become more open and collaborative (Chesbrough 2003a, 2006; Dahlander and Gann 2010).

However, the usage of new media and social networking IT for NPD is still in its infancy. In a recent survey of 4,803 executives, managers and analysts from a variety of industries across the globe, MIT Sloan Management Review with Deloitte Consulting and Deloitte Services (Kiron et al. 2013), found that 51% of firms were early in their use of new media and social networking IT, which means that they are primarily using such tools for marketing purposes. However, thirty-two percent of the respondents were in the development stage of using new media and social networking IT, which implies they have expanded their use beyond marketing to include innovation activities. Similarly, Roberts and Candi (2014) indicate that social networking tools are primarily used for product launch, and sparingly the front end of the NPD process such as in market research or for direct customer involvement in NPD efforts. Consequently, it is still unclear what the antecedents and consequences of using new media and social networking IT are in this important early phase of the NPD process.

To examine this important issue, researchers rely on the Resource-Based View (RBV) of the firm. The RBV states that firms have different resources and their performance depends on those particular resources and how they are used (Wernerfelt 1984; Wade and Hulland 2004). In addition, organizing and implementing these resources leads to the creation of an (IT) capability, which leads to higher firm performance (Barney 1992; Bharadwaj 2000; Eisenhardt and Martin 2000; Teece et al. 1997).

Aligning with the RBV, this research makes several contributions to theory. First, it expands the RBV by investigating how specific resources not previously examined relate to particular IT capabilities, and how those IT capabilities relate to NPD performance. Second, exploring the impact of an open innovation climate and the breadth of external collaboration on the usage of new media and social networking IT addresses the call for more research that integrates IT and open innovation (Nambisan 2013). Further, investigating the role of these new technologies in the NPD context may assist in the development of a theory of open innovation at the front end (Dodgson et al. 2006). Third, prior research suggests that different types of IT are useful in different phases of the NPD process, and that various IT tools may have diverse effects on NPD outcomes across each phase (Boutellier et al. 1998; Durmuşoğlu and Barczak 2011; Malhotra and Majchrzak 2004). By examining the relationships among resources (open innovation climate and external collaboration breadth), capabilities (new media and social networking IT usage) and performance within the front end NPD phase, we develop a deeper understanding of if, and how, these relationships specifically impact this important phase. We also answer the call for more research to investigate the NPD performance impact of IT usage (Sun et al. 2009).

Proposed postgraduate research program

  • School: School of Economics, Finance and Marketing
  • Program name: PhD Economics/Masters by Research (Economics)

Value and duration

A stipend of $32,000 per year over the duration of three years.

Number of scholarships available



To be considered for scholarship you must hold, or be currently completing either:

• Master by research
• Master by coursework with a significant research component graded as high distinction, or equivalent
• Honours degree achieving first class honours
• 4 year bachelor degree achieving a GPA of 4 or equivalent (80% or above).

If you do not hold one of the above qualifications you will only be considered for scholarship if you have previous peer reviewed publications or significant research experience.

Please make sure that you check the individual eligibility requirements of these scholarships prior to submitting your application.

It is also important to note that the scholarship rounds are highly competitive and satisfying the eligibility requirements does not guarantee a successful outcome. When a scholarship round closes all applications are received are ranked in order of merit. This process takes five to six weeks to complete. Applicants are typically advised of the outcome of a scholarship round five to six weeks after the round closes for applications.

How to apply

How to apply: International applicants need to apply for admission via iApply and ensure that there is an offer in place before submitting a scholarship application via the Graduate Research Scholarship application form. Domestic applicants can continue to apply for both admission and scholarship via this Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Admission and Scholarship Application Form (PDF). Domestic applicants who already hold an offer of admission from RMIT for a PhD or Masters by Research program but have not enrolled may apply for a scholarship using the Graduate Research Scholarship application form.

Open date

Applications are open until 4 May 2018. International applicants must have an offer of place prior to applying for a scholarship and are encouraged to submit an admission application by 27 April 2018.

Terms and conditions

See the research scholarship terms and conditions (PDF 327KB) for more information.


Professor Mike Reid
+61 3 9925 1474