Facilitating inter-organizational collaboration and knowledge creation in the context of the Finnish physical exercise sector - Case Ready Steady GO! Finland cluster Program

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School of Economics | Master's thesis
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Objective of the Research The Finnish physical exercise sector is undergoing an era of transformation, due to far-reaching structural changes within the sector and in the Finnish society. Although a small number of Finnish brands have managed to gain foothold on the international markets, most actors in the physical exercise sector have remained rather alone and unknown—until now. Among the concrete initiatives for responding to the recently identified opportunities and challenges is the Ready Steady GO! Finland (RSG!F) Program that brings together a set of organizations from the areas of physical exercise and design, to form a new-business model development and marketing cluster. The objective of my thesis is to explore, how inter-organizational collaboration and knowledge creation can be facilitated in the framework of this pioneering undertaking. Methodology of the Research The research approach of my thesis is qualitative, and I employ single case study as the research strategy. The empirical case study of the RSG!F Program consists of three main parts: semi-structured interviews with the organizations participating in the program, a brief qualitative e-mail survey for the program participants, and an unstructured interview with two RSG!F Project Managers. Findings and Implications of the Research The findings from the case study of the RSG!F Program reflect the participating organizations’ eagerness to collaborate and innovate with other actors in the sector. At the same time, the findings also point to challenges that fundamentally relate to the heterogeneous group of organizations in the program, limited resources, and the coexistence of competition and collaboration in the clustered environment. A wealth of know-how is already embedded in the set of organizations involved in the undertaking, but extending the knowledge base and creating further knowledge linkages to external parties is important. Overall, the findings from the RSG!F case study are well in line with previous research. This research contributes to advancing knowledge in the emerging Finnish physical exercise sector by shedding light on the first phases of a pioneering inter-organizational innovation undertaking. It also addresses gaps in understanding concerning cluster programs and inter-organizational collaboration. The managerial implications of the study are particularly interesting for the coordinators of the RSG!F Program, but they may also be useful for the organizers of other comparable undertakings, and the developers of entrepreneurship in the Finnish physical exercise sector.
inter-organizational collaboration, collaborative new product development, cluster programs, clusters, networks, learning, knowledge creation, ba, physical exercise sector
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