Innovation and Shared Value Creation: A Social Elephant in the Room? - A Qualitative Case Study of How a Norwegian Industry Company Uses Product Innovation to Create Shared Value
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Business is blamed for the social, environmental and economic problems the world is faced with. Shared value creation is proposed as a solution to these problems, where firms create economic value for itself and for the society simultaneously. This thesis aims to better understand how product innovation can create shared value, and this is done in the context of the social pillar of sustainability. A single-case study is conducted on a Norwegian industry company. The company has recently been through a radical product innovation process, and has a history of engaging in social initiatives. In order to understand the relation between product innovation and shared value creation, a conceptual model based on existing literature is made. The conceptual model includes the firm s organizational orientation, external and internal drivers of product innovation, the product innovation, and shared value creation outcomes. The conceptual model is used to analyze the case company, which results in a new understanding of how product innovation can create shared value. The analysis reveals two key findings. First, the case company does not need to identify social issues to target, nor make a business case in order for shared value to be created. This uncovering implies that shared value creation as a result of product innovation can be an emergent strategy. Second, the product does not need to address social needs, it is sufficient that processes related to the product do so. In order for such processes to succeed, external actors and engaged individuals within and outside the firm, are argued as crucial.