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External idea sourcing is a central topic in the recent discourse in innovation research. Companies can tap into a range of external sources to search for and source new ideas - ranging from customer, consumers to suppliers and universities. Whilst it is widely acknowledged that novel ideas often emerge from the combination of distant pieces of knowledge, the current discussion pays only little attention to active search among distant actors using analogical thinking to explore new problem solutions. This action research paper addresses cross-industry innovation sourcing in the front-end and presents a management model for systematic external idea sourcing in distant industry domains. A piloted model is presented that assists technology and innovation managers in developing a cross-industry innovation sourcing strategy and in systematically exploiting cross-industry actors as sources for innovation inputs - going beyond technological solutions.
Date of Conference: 18-22 July 2010