The Collaborative Process of the French Nexans Group: An Open Innovation Strategy?

By Christine Leboulanger, Françoise Perdrieu-Maudière

This article studies the collaborative process within the French Nexans group. Although initially only a small cable-making factory, this century-old company has become a world leader in its field. Its development is due to the rise of electricity. In the early 20th century, taken over by the General Electricity Company (GEC), it continued growing. During the 1980s, it was renamed Alcatel Cable, and in the year 2000 the Nexans subsidiary was created. It acquired its independence in 2005 following Alcatel’s withdrawal from that industry. Nexans presents two major assets: a strong specialization and a continuing investment policy in research and development. Upstream research is centralized and concentrated in two main areas: polymers and superconductors. Nexans is the only company which masters the entire process. The specificities of this high-technology domain have forced it into a collaborative process establishing real inter-organizational networks. Nexans’ cooperations are mainly vertical or transversal. Recurrent partnerships with structures, both public and private, are established in order to facilitate a collective creation of knowledge and an exchange of expertise essential in the absence of a predictive scientific model. Apart from the fact that such technological collaborations enrich its offer, Nexans is also seeking to enter new market segments and to extend its geographical positions. Therefore, it must be admitted that such an innovation process relates to the logic of open innovation.
JEL Codes: L21, O32, O33


  • open innovation
  • collaborative process
  • innovative processes
  • high technology
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