Managing Open Innovation

Managing Open Innovation

Connecting the Firm to External Knowledge

André Spithoven, Peter Teirlinck and Dirk Frantzen

Open innovation is about firms’ external relations with other firms and organisations. It is a topic which has attracted an immense amount of attention, but which has also been heavily criticised due to the diversity of the ideas and fuzziness of its key concepts. To date, the bulk of the literature on open innovation draws on case study material to illustrate the operation of firms in an anecdotal way. By contrast, this book examines open innovation practices by using large-scale datasets and stresses their impact on firm performance. The authors examine four key issues: differences between firms in open innovation practices, public funding to enhance external relations, R & D outsourcing of firms, and the role of human resources in R & D and innovation.

General Conclusions

André Spithoven, Peter Teirlinck and Dirk Frantzen

Subjects: business and management, knowledge management, organisational innovation, economics and finance, economics of innovation, innovation and technology, economics of innovation, knowledge management, organisational innovation


In the past decade, innovation has been described as becoming more ‘open’ than before, with firms engaging in external knowledge relations with other organisations. By the turn of the century, the world in which innovation took root had changed, in that it offered an abundance of highly skilled workers, good access to financial means for firms and a large share in the knowledge base of innovation systems. The discussion can be framed largely in terms of the consequences for business enterprises of open innovation. However, for policy-makers, the question is one of whether their policy instruments have been out-dated by the world of open innovation. Based on the empirical work presented in this book, there are a few lessons to be learned with regard to the management and governance of open innovation. The main messages are presented in line with the four research areas identified for further development at the beginning of this book, both from a theoretical and empirical perspective: firm heterogeneity in innovation performance; the role of government in shaping open innovation practices; the implications for internal research and innovation R&D outsourcing activities; and the role of internal R&D personnel in a firm’s decision to engage in open innovation practices. First, with regard to firm heterogeneity in the management of open innovation, systematic differences have been identified between the behaviours of poor and strong innovative performers. Hence, the relevance to management science of an understanding of the behaviour at the extremes, that is, firms that perform...

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