Barça Innovation Hub: Getting the Ball Rolling on Innovation

by Henry Chesbrough, Ivanka Visnjic, Albert Mundet, and Georg Volwahsen

This case study follows the Spanish football club, FC Barcelona, as it starts to innovate and create an organizational structure for open innovation. At the beginning of the case study, FC Barcelona has an outstanding track record of on-field performance and a set of knowledge management and research activities that support that performance. However, there was no real innovation activity. In 2015, not only the aspirations of the new management but also the exponential pace of technology and the raised pressure to win on the field pushed FC Barcelona to ‘up its game’ and move from research and knowledge management to collaborative innovation projects. In 2020, when the case study was developed, FC Barcelona has been busy executing its vision to become the ‘Silicon Valley of sports’, supported by its innovation unit called Barca Innovation Hub or Bihub, for short.

Learning Objectives

The purpose of this case study is to illustrate the organizational dynamics underpinning the creation of an innovation organization and, in particular, its use of an open innovation model. The sports context allows us to zoom into these dynamics in an environment characterized by three factors: significant resource constraints, a strong focus on short-term results, and a culture averse to failure. These three factors are, of course, known impediments to innovation. Creating an innovation organization under these conditions allows certain innovation projects to flourish but acts as a constrain on others. Thus, the case study is a suitable vehicle for discussing the basics of organizing for (open) innovation and for determining how this organizing impacts the innovation portfolio. In addition, it is particularly helpful to sports institutions looking to boost their use of and yield from innovation.


Pub Date: February 1, 2021

Discipline: Innovation

Subjects: Innovation, Sports, Startups

Product #: B5968-PDF-ENG

Industry: Technology, Sports

Geography: Spain

Length: 20 page(s)

Berkeley Haas Case Series
Berkeley Haas Case Series The Berkeley Haas Case Series is a collection of business case studies written by faculty members at the Haas School of Business. Cases are conceived, developed, written, and published throughout the year, on subjects ranging from entrepreneurship and strategy to finance and marketing. Each case includes a teaching note for use in the classroom.


Berkeley Haas Case Series

A new collection of business case studies from Berkeley Haas

The aim of the Berkeley Haas Case Series is to incite business innovation by clarifying disruptive trends and questioning the status quo.

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