Collaborative Strategic Foresight and New Product Development in Chinese Pharmaceutical Firms

Xiaoqing Li, David Sarpong, Catherine L. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We integrate insights from open innovation and collaborative strategic foresight (CSF) to theorize collaborative innovation practice. Adopting a case-based approach, we draw qualitative insights from two Chinese pharmaceutical firms - one private and one state-owned, both engaged in new product development (NPD) projects. Focusing on how firms leverage CSF to support their NPD, we offer an interpretive account of how the two firms take different approaches to orchestrating their strategic partnerships to identify, explore, and exploit opportunities for innovation. This article sheds light on how focal firms, through SF practices of perceiving, prospecting, and probing, translate ideas and insights gained from collaborating partners into action to support their innovation processes. Expanding and shifting the focus of traditional strategic foresight from an inward-looking orientation to an outward-looking CSF, we show how focal firms could tap into distributed knowledge embedded in sources located beyond the theoretical boundaries of the firm. We argue that appropriately managed CSF at different stages of NPD could help companies to better sense, seize, and integrate potentialities and limits otherwise overlooked by their competitors. We reveal that the type of ownership, an unexplored factor, explains a firm's different CSF approaches (explorative versus exploitative) in innovation for NPD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-563
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Issue number2
Early online date18 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

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  • Chinese pharmaceutical firms
  • collaborative strategic foresight (CSF)
  • new product development (NPD)
  • open innovation


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