The increased importance of knowledge creation and use to firms ’ global competitiveness has spawned considerable experimentation with organizational designs for product development and commercialization over the last three decades. This paper discusses innovation-related organizational design developments during this period, showing how firms have moved from stand-alone organizations to multifirm network organizations to community-based organizational designs. The collaborative community of firms model, the most recent organizational design in this evolutionary process, is described in detail. Blade.org, a purposefully designed collaborative community of firms dedicated to the continuous development and commercialization of blade servers, a computer technology with large but unforeseeable market potential, is used as an illustrative case. Blade.org’s organizational design combines a community ‘‘commons’ ’ for the collective development and sharing of knowledge among member firms with explicit institutional mechanisms for the support of direct intermember collaboration. These design elements are used to overcome the challenges associated with (1) concurrent technological and market experimentation and (2) the dynamic coordination of a complex emergent system of hardware, software, and services provided by otherwise independent firms. To date, Blade.org has developed more than 60 new products, providing strong evidence of the innovation prowess of the collaborative community of firms organizational model. Based on an analysis of the evolution of organizational designs and the case of Blade.org, implications for innovation management theory and practice are derived
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