Digital technologies offer multiple opportunities for firms, but they also involve many challenges. Incumbent firms especially need to pursue digitalization in their businesses and create digital innovations in order to stay competitive in the market. For this purpose, an increased number of incumbent firms have been collaborating with start-ups with the aim of identifying and developing new business fields. Influencing factors in the context of collaboration between incumbent firms and start-ups aiming to foster digital innovation have barely been addressed in the research. Against this background, we have compiled a literature review on collaboration and conducted a qualitative study based on 30 interviews with experts from incumbent firms and start-ups. We investigate the increasingly important inter-organizational form that is emerging from collaborative innovative processes by influencing factors identified in terms of intra-individual und interactional levels. Our main interest is in showing what factors affect incumbent firms and start-ups in pursuit of collaboration with the aim of creating and implementing digital innovation. With our results, we are contributing to the literature on collaboration as well as providing practitioners valuable guidance for fostering digital innovation by illustrating relevant factors that can be considered in future inter-organizational collaborations.

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