California Management Review
California Management Review is a premier academic management journal published at UC Berkeley
by Thuy Seran and Sea Matilda Bez
This article examines the “multiunit back-end problem” of open innovation based on a case study of the Banque Populaire Caisse d’Epargne (BPCE) Group, a large French bank with two business units. The multiunit back-end problem occurs when internal business units who consider themselves rivals are asked to collaborate for the success of an open innovation initiative. BPCE failed several times to use external startups to accelerate its digital transformation due to rivalry between its internal business units. This article presents guidelines that firms with rival business units can use to align their front-end and back-end when working with startups to accelerate their digital transformation program.