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Creative imitation: exploring the case of cross-industry innovation



In cross-industry innovation, already existing solutions from other industries are creatively imitated and retranslated to meet the needs of the company's current market or products. Such solutions can be technologies, patents, specific knowledge, capabilities, business processes, general principles, or whole business models. Innovations systematically created in a cross-industry context are a new phenomenon for theory and practice in respect of an open innovation approach. While the cognitive distance between the acquired knowledge and the problem to be solved was regarded as a counterproductive factor in older research, recent theory regards it as positively related to innovation performance. Following the latest theory, we examine 25 cross-industry cases to ascertain cognitive distance's influence on innovation performance. Our study reveals that there is no direct correlation between a higher or a closer distance and a more explorative or exploitative outcome.