This study examines how intermediaries, in general, and those with digital service platforms specifically, engage with clients to help them innovate their services within their service ecosystem. Based on an embedded, longitudinal case study, the results reveal the cumulative development and deployment of technological, marketing, and co-creation capabilities by intermediaries, and how these capabilities allow intermediaries to engage with clients, so as to enable clients’ open service innovation despite their internal challenges. In turn, this article extends theory on service innovation by clarifying the role and function of intermediaries in service ecosystems in enabling clients to leverage open service innovation. Second, this study contributes to resource-based scholarship by clarifying how these three sets of capabilities and their micro-foundations relate to each other. Despite the obvious importance of technological capabilities, online intermediaries are more than just “virtual” service platform providers. The intermediary’s technological and marketing capabilities assist clients in dealing with project-related and organizational challenges to open service innovation. Acting as a higher-order capability, co-creation capabilities—through shaping marketing and technological capabilities over time and also through conditioning their deployment—improve the proficiency of these capabilities. The findings advance insights on the agential role of the intermediary’s co-creation capabilities, purposefully developed and deployed to foster client engagement, and thus support service organizations in leveraging open service innovation.
- service innovation
- open innovation