Front End Transfers of Digital Innovations in a Hybrid Agile-Stage-Gate Setting

Kati M. Brock (Corresponding author), Elke den Ouden, Fred Langerak, Ksenia S. Podoynitsyna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Digital innovations often follow a more fluid innovation process and, therefore, require different ways of managing the front end of innovation. Agile as alternative to established front end management practices is often suggested, potentially combined with Stage‐Gate, in what is called a hybrid Agile‐Stage‐Gate model, to reap the benefits from both. Implementing the hybrid model in the front end is however not sufficient for firms with separate Research and Development departments to succeed. In such organizations digital innovations still need to be transferred from Research, where the front end work on digital innovations takes place, to the Development department, where formal development actually starts. Yet, such front end transfers have been described as inefficient and ineffective. Realizing digital innovation front end transfers is likely even more challenging because of their fluid definition. In the absence of extant theory on front end transfers in such a setting, this research uses a case study approach to analyze the front end transfer experiences of the Research department of a firm in the lighting industry that is undergoing a transformation from traditional to digital lighting. The in‐depth analysis of triangulated data on eight front end projects shows that Research struggles to transfer digital innovations to Development, because transfer practices in terms of management, scope, and synchronization, turn out to be inherently challenging in a hybrid Agile‐Stage‐Gate setting. Specifically, the results reveal that each transfer practice plays an intricate role in either facilitating (i.e., transfer management) or inhibiting (i.e., transfer scope and synchronization) front end transfers of digital innovations. The discovery of these opposing forces has important implications for novel theorizing on the use of Agile in the front end of digital innovation, transfer practices from Research to Development in a hybrid setting, as well as for theorizing about digital innovation management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-527
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Product Innovation Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


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