Negative Spillovers Across Partnerships for Responsible Innovation: Evidence from the 2014 Ebola Outbreak

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Abstract

Humanity faces ongoing and contemporaneous grand challenges. Occasionally, abrupt shocks escalate a grand challenge’s salience over others. Prior research has advocated forming partnerships to address grand challenges via responsible innovation. Yet, it remains unclear how temporal changes in the salience of a grand challenge impact innovation performances of partnerships. We address this research gap by bridging the literature on issue salience, responsible innovation and interorganizational relationships. We argue that shocks either aid or harm the performance of partnerships for responsible innovation depending on whether their domains are directly or indirectly affected. The Ebola outbreak in 2014 sets the empirical context to test our theory. We find that while the innovation performance of Ebola partnerships formed after the outbreak rose eleven-fold, the performance of partnerships treating Influenza fell by 84.9 per cent. Our theory and findings have immediate implications for today’s COVID-19 outbreak, cautioning against salience shifts among concurrent grand challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-162
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Volume59
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Marion Koopmans, Gurneeta Singh, Korcan Kavusan, Nikki Bekbulat, and Helge Klapper for their helpful comments as well as the seminar participants at Erasmus Medical School, Drexel University, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Sabanci University and Rotterdam School of Management. The authors gratefully acknowledge the insightful suggestions provided by Günter Stahl, three anonymous reviewers and participants in the special issue workshop at Audencia Business School. An earlier version of this paper received a Distinguished Paper Award from the STR Division of the Academy of Management. Both authors contributed equally. The usual disclaimer applies.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Management Studies published by Society for the Advancement of Management Studies and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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