In light of globalization, technological complexity and an increasingly distributed knowledge landscape, many firms are facing difficulties in sustaining and profiting from their internal R&D investments. Therefore, researchers and practitioners more and more agree that companies need to rethink how to generate new products and bring them to the market. One way of rethinking innovation is reflected in the transition from closed to open innovation. In 2003, Chesbrough defined ‘inbound’ open innovation as the leverage of external ideas and knowledge, and ‘outbound’ open innovation as the usage of external paths to market.
Maastricht University has initiated a research study to learn more about the systematic management of the new ‘inbound’ innovation model. We have prepared a survey to collect data from a broad range of firms conducting open innovation practices. This study aims at gaining a better understanding of the transition from closed to open innovation by addressing three core questions. A first round of data collection, including 85 firms, generated some interesting preliminary results.
Is open innovation a wide-spread phenomenon or is it restricted to a few innovation leaders? In our preliminary results we do observe a transition from internal R&D to open innovation. A large percentage of firms accesses diverse external knowledge sources in order to boost internal innovation activities. The figure below displays different external sources for innovation and shows the percentage of firms that uses these sources extensively.
The chart demonstrates that universities and research institutes represent the most important knowledge source for innovating companies, while start-ups, competitors, and innovation intermediaries are less popular sources.
Does it pay off for these firms to systematically tap into these diverse external knowledge sources? To shed light on this question we look at the benefits of open innovation partnerships. How successful is it as an innovation method and how does it affect different innovation outcomes, such as:
So far, our results show that different open innovation strategies have diverse effects on innovation outcomes. Hence, we hope to gain some more differentiated insights into how open innovation influences different key performance and innovation indicators.
What does it take to achieve excellence in open innovation? How can firms tap into external knowledge and integrate it in their internal innovation processes? Our results show that open innovation forces companies into detailed consideration of underlying capabilities, processes, and tools, such as:
In our study we look at whether these capabilities, processes, and tools (amongst others) help firms to become more successful in open innovation.
In order to improve the validity of our results we are currently looking for additional respondents to participate in our survey. By collecting more data we want to establish more accurate results regarding the open innovation – performance relationship. Furthermore, by investigating a larger set of firms, we can expand our investigation of underlying capabilities, processes, and tools. This investigation will help to sketch best practices for open innovation management. In return for you participation you will receive a customized report of our comprehensive analysis, which can be used to compare your firm’s (open) innovation practices with a benchmark of other firms. This survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. Answers are confidential and will be released only in aggregate form, so that individual firms are not identifiable. We would very much appreciate your insights and hope that you will fill out our online survey at your earliest convenience, by clicking on the link below:
By Ann-Kristin Ridder MSc, PhD Candidate, & John Hagedoorn, Professor of Strategy and International Business, School of Business and Economics, Organization & Strategy, Maastricht University
Ann-Kristin Ridder is a PhD Candidate in the field of strategy and innovation. She started her academic career in 2005 at Maastricht University. During her ‘International Business’ (BA) studies, she spent an academic semester in Vancouver, Canada. Having developed a lively interest in academic research, particularly on the topic of innovation management, she chose to continue with a master program in ‘Business Research’ at Maastricht University. During her master studies, Ann-Kristin held a research assistant position at the ‘Department of Organization and Strategy’. After graduating (cum laude) in 2010, she began her three-year appointment as a PhD candidate at the same department. Her general research interests lie in the fields of capabilities and processes for managing (open) innovation.
John Hagedoorn is Professor of Strategic Management at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of Maastricht University. He has a MA in economic sociology and political economics from the University of Leiden (cum laude) and a PhD in industrial economics from the University of Maastricht. His professional experience ranges from policy research to academic research and from applied economics to management and international business studies. He worked for the Dutch research organisation TNO and is now Professor of Strategic Management at Maastricht University. John Hagedoorn is also a professorial fellow with the Maastricht Economic Research institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT) the Centre for Strategy Studies (CSS) of the Department of Management Sciences at Maastricht University.