Company reactions to disruptive innovation: an exploratory study of service industries

Luca De Ridder
Systematische literatuurstudie naar het empirisch onderzoek rond disruptieve innovatie (disruptive innovation) en een exploratief onderzoek naar de mogelijke bedrijfsreacties op disruptieve innovatie in dienstensectoren.

Werken klassieke taxibedrijven binnenkort samen met Uber?

Initiatieven zoals Uber en Airbnb zijn alomtegenwoordig. Tal van ‘disruptieve’ internetdiensten zijn onlangs in een korte tijd enorm populair geworden en hebben een snelle internationale groei meegemaakt. In de gevallen van Uber en Airbnb heeft dit initieel tot onvrede geleid bij de klassieke taxi- en hotelsectoren. Hoe hebben klassieke bedrijven ondertussen besloten om om te gaan deze vernieuwingen? En klopt het beeld dat de meeste klassieke ondernemingen zich bedreigd voelen, of zijn tal van gevestigde ondernemingen er ook helemaal gerust dat er niet zo veel zal veranderen?  Luca De Ridder (Universiteit Antwerpen) trachtte deze vragen te beantwoorden in zijn masterthesis.

 

Innovaties die hele sectoren ontwrichten en de regels van het spel herschrijven, zijn niet nieuw. In de negentiende eeuw had Henry Ford dit al verwezenlijkt door zijn bekende Model T uit te brengen. Daarmee maakte hij van de auto toegankelijke koopwaar voor het brede publiek en ontwrichte hij de toenmalige autosector. Professor Clayton Christensen (Harvard Business School) stelde in het begin van de jaren ’90 een theorie op om te verklaren hoe de meest succesvolle bedrijven hun koppositie verliezen aan kleine startups met schijnbaar eenvoudige innovaties. Is deze theorie ook toepasbaar op hedendaagse internetdiensten zoals Uber? Na een grondig literatuuronderzoek bleek dat de theorie over disruptieve innovatie - die het woord ‘disruptie’ overigens populair maakte bij het grote publiek - enkel opgesteld is op basis van gegevens uit de sector van hardeschijfproducenten. Deze sector is hoogtechnologisch en kan niet zomaar vergeleken worden met een internetdienst uit Silicon Valley, die minder op de productie van fysieke zaken gericht is. Desondanks wordt ze veelvuldig toegepast en worden tal van initiatieven te pas en te onpas ‘disruptief’ genoemd - hoewel Christensens theorie van disruptieve innovatie voor meer nuance pleit. Een belangrijk verschilpunt leek te zijn dat klassieke dienstenbedrijven meer mogelijkheden hebben om op vernieuwingen te reageren dan productiebedrijven. Dit omdat het goed mogelijk is dat de nodige investeringen om een alternatief uit te werken, lager zijn in een dienstensector. Om de theorie van Christensen toe te passen op moderne internetdiensten, moest ze dus worden aangevuld met de manieren waarop dienstenbedrijven kunnen reageren op ontwrichtende innovatie.

 

Protesteren, negeren of kopiëren?

Om na te gaan op welke manieren de traditionele economie reageert op een radicale vernieuwing, voerde Luca De Ridder een reeks diepte-interviews uit met verschillende partijen. Zowel klassieke ondernemingen, als disruptieve initiatieven, als sectorfederaties kwamen aan bod. Dit onderzoek werd gevoerd in de HR-sector en in de sector van de juridische dienstverlening: beide worden op dit moment geconfronteerd met nieuwe internetdiensten die hun huidige aanbod mogelijks kunnen vervangen. Uit deze reeks interviews bleek dat klassieke ondernemingen op de meest uiteenlopende manieren reageren op disruptie. Sommige voelen zich inderdaad ernstig bedreigd en proberen het initiatief na te bootsen of juist te saboteren voor het groot kan worden. Andere zien dan weer tal van mogelijkheden tot samenwerking met de initiatieven - daarbij kunnen ze startups zelfs aanmoedigen om disruptieve toepassingen te bedenken, die ze vervolgens overnemen, om zodoende hun eigen innovatie-inspanningen te kunnen verlichten. Een laatste groep van ondernemingen voelt zich zelfs gewoonweg niet bedreigd door de nieuwe diensten en voeren geen veranderingen door aan hun eigen manier van werken. 

 

De taxi- en hotelsectoren hebben uitgebreid geprotesteerd tegen de komst van Uber en Airbnb. In andere sectoren heeft men eveneens disrupties proberen te verhinderen, maar evengoed hebben klassieke ondernemingen deze zaken genegeerd of manieren gezocht om er actief mee samen te werken. Als het blijkt dat een innovatie niet terug te dringen is, loont het misschien het meest de moeite voor beide partijen - traditioneel bedrijf en disruptieve initiatiefnemer - om samen te werken en de sterktes van beide combineren?

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Universiteit of Hogeschool
Master of science in de toegepaste economische wetenschappen: handelsingenieur in de beleidsinformatica
Publicatiejaar
2018
Promotor(en)
Prof. dr. Liselore Berghman
Kernwoorden