The Dynamics of Trust and Control in Innovation Ecosystems


  • Dieudonnee Cobben Open University of the Netherlands
  • Nadine Roijakkers Open University of the Netherlands



Innovation Ecosystem, Governance Mechanisms, Focal Entity, Alliances, Output Control, Social Control, Behavioural Control, Competence Trust, Goodwill Trust, Partner Alignment, Alliance Management Capabilities


Within the innovation ecosystem literature, scholars have considered governance mechanisms as an important instrument for focal entities to mitigate the risks of opportunistic behaviour. Scholars have not focused yet on how these mechanisms work. In the alliance literature, governance mechanisms have been extensively researched and described. As innovation ecosystems are a subset of alliances, constructs from the alliance literature are used to understand how governance mechanisms are employed by the focal entity within innovation ecosystems. Scholars have also considered the importance of partner alignment for successful innovations. To mitigate the risks of opportunistic behaviour and to align partners, this research has focused on understanding how the focal entity uses governance mechanisms to influence partner alignment. Based on an exploratory multiple case study research, this research has found a list of partner stimulators, like for example leadership and expectation management, that influence the effectiveness of governance mechanisms used by focal entities in aligning partners. When partner alignment stimulators are present, the effectiveness of governance mechanisms is enhanced and partners feel more aligned. We have also developed a model that explains the relation between partner alignment stimulators, governance mechanisms, and partner alignment. In addition, we have found that constructs from the alliance literature can be applied to an innovation ecosystem setting when partner alignment stimulators are considered in addition to governance mechanisms.  We contribute to the innovation ecosystem literature by explicitly considering partner alignment stimulators that influence the relation between governance mechanisms and partner alignment. Future research could focus on using quantitative methods to strengthen the findings of this research.


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Author Biographies

Dieudonnee Cobben, Open University of the Netherlands

Dieudonnee Cobben is a junior researcher at the Open University of the Netherlands. She recently graduated for her double master degree in Innovation Sciences and Innovation Management at the University of Technology Eindhoven where she specialized in open innovation, innovation ecosystems, social innovation and sustainability. Next to her education she did an Honors Program in which she researched how social innovation can be implemented at bureaucratic and hierarchical organizations for the International Energy Agency. Her bachelor thesis focused on the power of social groups on the implementation of controversial technologies. Her master thesis focused on the implementation of trust and control-based governance mechanisms by focal actors and its influence on partner alignment in innovation ecosystems.

Nadine Roijakkers, Open University of the Netherlands

Nadine Roijakkers is program director professional programs at the Open University of the Netherlands. During the period 1994-1998 Nadine was a Master student of Innovation Management and Strategy/Organization at Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. She wrote her PhD thesis at the United Nations University/MERIT on inter-firm collaborative innovation in the pharmaceutical biotechnology industry. During the period 2002-2007 she held a number of positions in research and academia. From 2007 to 2009 she was a senior strategy consultant to companies operating in telecommunications and utilities at Atos-KPMG Consulting. As of November 2009 she has returned to the academic world. Nadine has published numerous articles on alliance management and innovation management. Outlets for her work include among others Long Range Planning, Research Policy, Harvard Business History Review, British Journal of Management, European Management Journal, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Small Business Economics, California Management Review, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Organizational Dynamics, and Journal of Service Management. Furthermore, she is co-editor of the edited volume "Researching OI in SMEs" published by World Scientific.




How to Cite

Cobben, D., & Roijakkers, N. (2019). The Dynamics of Trust and Control in Innovation Ecosystems. International Journal of Innovation, 7(1), 01–25.