A Comparative Study of two Mobility Initiatives at the Edge of the Insurance Industry

By Leah Riefle

9 September 2022 12:22

A Comparative Study of two Mobility Initiatives at the Edge of the Insurance Industry

This thesis explores how innovation at the edge can take place in established firms.

Leah Riefle. Private photo
Leah Riefle. Private photo

Rather than attempting to change the entire firm, an incumbent can pursue innovation at the edge of its current business. While consultants have written about this, and it has been observed in practice, we have limited research-based knowledge explaining how the edge can facilitate change and innovation.

This study compares two mobility innovation initiatives at the edge of a Norwegian insurance company. One edge initiative was established as recommendation out of a strategic project while the other emerged through an acquisition.

The study identifies six features of innovation initiatives at the edge: distance to the core, key drivers, focus of the collaboration, top management support, development processes and progress measurements, and perceptions of employees within the core.

While both initiatives exhibited these key features, they took on somewhat different form and resulted in different trajectories over time. In particular, the relationship of top management support differed across the two initiatives suggesting that extensive top management support can turn into interference potentially hampering innovation.

Overall, the findings extend the existing literature on innovation within established firms by illustrating and explaining how the edge approach contains some similarities but also clear distinctions from the more well-known approach of structural ambidexterity.

The findings also extend existing consulting framework by developing research-based knowledge on innovation at the edge, particularly through identifying key distinctive features.

Title of thesis: Innovation at the Edge in the Established Firm: An Exploratory Study of two Edge Initiatives

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