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Harnessing a network of experts for competitive advantage: technology scouting in the ICT industry

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In order to identify discontinuous technological change and develop appropriate action, companies are increasingly building technology foresight (TF) practices. This paper explores how, using networks of experts, TF capabilities can be built. On the basis of three case studies and 43 interviews, it is shown that building foresight systems through networks of scouts yields several benefits, including the support for sourcing external technologies. Using insights from the three major telecommunication incumbents in Europe, the paper describes and discusses (1) what can be achieved by technology scouting, (2) how a process can be set up, (3) what is important in the design of a scouting network, and (4) the characteristics that should be aimed for when choosing technology scouts. The paper contributes to the methodological base of corporate foresight, to the technology management literature, and to the understanding of how companies can increase their open-innovation capabilities by extending the intertwinement with their environment.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Technische Universität Berlin, Chair for Innovation and Technology Management, Straße des 17 Juni 135, 10587 Berlin, Germany., Email:

Publication date: 2010-03-01

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