Between differentiation and integration: Fostering exploration innovation thanks to the internal Fab Lab, the case of the i-Lab (Air Liquide)

By Emilie Ruiz

Internal Fab Labs are company-owned third place for innovation. Recent studies point out the difficulties in integrating them into the organization as these structures aim to differentiate from the rest of the company in order to explore. This research tries to shed light on this dilemma between differentiation and integration by studying the i-Lab (Air Liquide). In particular, our work provides a better understanding of the differentiation and integration logics required to adopt an internal Fab Lab. Moreover, it appears that simple integration mechanisms, such as geographical and organizational proximity with R&D teams or value creation, are not enough to solve this dilemma. On the other hand, it appears that the i-Lab has managed to integrate while differentiating itself thanks to several organizational compromises, such as legitimacy, intrapreneurship, internal turn over and the creation of a new transversal business unit.
JEL Code: O310

  • Internal Fab Lab
  • Exploration
  • Differentiation
  • Integration
  • Ambidexterity
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