– Vietnamese agro-food firms are often small and have short value chains. They are facing increasing competition from multinationals to serve the consumers of the rising middle class. It is assumed that co-creation or open-innovation can be a competitive innovation strategy for the Vietnamese firms. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to understand whether the agro-food firms have the “mental space” or an according mindset to innovate with their customers.
– A three dimensional model of “mental innovation space” (MIS) was developed, comprising of the: focus of innovation, level of innovation and degree of collaboration. A total of 14 Vietnamese agro-food companies agreed to embark on a process of problem definition for innovation according to these three dimensions. This process creates a deeper understanding of the firms’ fuzzy front end of innovation and results in less hypothetical findings, compared with traditional interviews.
– The results show that the Vietnamese agro-food firms have a rather small MIS. They are inexperienced with innovation in new product development and are even more unfamiliar with co-creation. However, the firms recognise the need for innovation and are enthusiastic about the use of co-creation. The applications of co-creation firms foresee are close to the market, motivated by meeting customer demand and keeping up with competitors.
– The characteristics and willingness of the Vietnamese agro-food firms make that it is believed an open atmosphere can be created. Then, co-creation can foster innovation in order to strengthen their competitive position.
- New product development
- Fuzzy front end