Turning from Laggard to Leader in National Radical Innovation and Beyond

The Case of Mannesmann’s Predevelopment Unit and the Project Robin for Germany’s Electronic GPS-Based Truck Toll System
  • Stefan Hüsig
Part of the Innovation, Technology, and Knowledge Management book series (ITKM)


This chapter describes and analyzes the case of the rise of a late entrant in the area of electronic road tolling systems – Mannesmann AG – from a laggard nation – Germany – in the traditional market of road tolling equipment which was dominated by a number of established incumbents with conventional technology. By faster anticipating and combining previously unrelated trends in the technological, institutional, and market domains plus transforming them into a new radical approach, the newcomer company managed to introduce the core of the new high-tech system for electronic road tolling in Germany – the so called “On-Board-Unit.” This case was reconstructed with hindsight using a large amount of internal and public documents combined with several interviews with key persons in charge of the project. The analyzed innovation project was called ROBIN (Road Billing Network) and was initiated by the innovation unit of the German Mannesmann AG called “Mannesmann Pilotentwicklung” in 1992 and was introduced in the market in 2005. It combined the upcoming traffic telematics with new communication and location technologies. Important application fields were identified in the area of electronic road pricing, navigation, and traffic management. Using a multilevel and multistages framework based on literature from NPD as well as the strategy/innovation literature, this case provides interesting propositions on how various challenges regarding multiple uncertainties in the institutional and firm context as well as multiple newness dimensions in technology and applications can be managed over a time period of over 8–10 years, including a hostile take-over of the firm by Vodafone. Of specific interest in this context is the role of the innovation unit “Mannesmann Pilotentwicklung” and their strategies to help this project to finally succeed.


Innovation Process Radical Innovation Innovation Project Road Toll Electronic Toll Collection 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Management of Innovation and TechnologyUniversity of RegensburgRegensburgGermany

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