How to Engage the Crowd for Innovation in Restricted Markets? The Case of Google in China.

23 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2018

Date Written: August 30, 2018


Technological firms growingly depend on open innovation to compete in hypercompetitive markets. To openly engage the creativity of a multitude of private actors, firms can rely on crowdsourcing. This is notably the case of mobile application platform providers, such as Google, Apple, Huawei, etc. When practiced at a global scale, the crowdsourcing give rise to challenges for companies to continuously engage multiple local partners, communicate successfully despite cultural difference and create a sense of community. In this essay, we argue that crowdsourcing for innovation at a global scale requires effective boundary spanning capabilities. These boundary-spanning practices allow firms to ensure a smooth cooperation with the crowd and solve problems related with status difference and organizational context differentials. This paper draws on a qualitative study of Google in China and focuses on the boundary spanning activities which are responsible for the development of sustainable and efficient relationships with a growing community of Chinese developers. This study context has been chosen because Google officially left China in 2010 leaving its search engine and other services unavailable within the Chinese Great Firewall. How Google can attract Chinese developers to contribute to its product platform despite market restrictions is a key issue. This research study provides a deep and conceptualized description of the boundary-spanning practices and contribution for managers.

Keywords: Crowdsourcing for innovation, Google, boundary spanning, China

Suggested Citation

Lissillour, Raphael, How to Engage the Crowd for Innovation in Restricted Markets? The Case of Google in China. (August 30, 2018). 2018 Engaged Management Scholarship Conference: Philadelphia, PA. Available at SSRN: or

Raphael Lissillour (Contact Author)

IPAG Business School ( email )

184 BD Saint Germain
Paris, 75006

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