Aspiring to close capability gaps for digital innovation, industrial-age incumbents often decide to establish Digital Innovation Units (DIUs), which are separated from the main organization both geographically and with regard to their techniques, skills and working styles. This separation is problematic as digital innovation in these contexts is about the combination of digital and physical components. These components impose fundamentally different demands yet also belong together. To resolve this paradoxical situation, incumbents need to transcend mere separation. As prior research falls short in explaining how DIUs and main organizations can cooperate symbiotically, we conducted a Delphi survey involving 23 automotive experts to discover some answers. From the specific findings, we abstract three meta-patterns: maintaining structural autonomy, strategic boundary spanning and operational synchronizing. We synthesize these meta-patterns into a multi-layered organizing model and relate our findings to paradox and ambidexterity theory. We derive important implications for IS research and managerial practice.
Schumm, Max and Hanelt, André, "Digital Innovation Units in Industrial-Age Contexts - Paradoxes, Ambidexterity and Symbiotic Collaboration" (2023). ECIS 2023 Research Papers. 297.