Meeting the Innovation Challenge
Edited by John Bessant and Tim Venables
3. How open is innovation? Linus Dahlander and David Gann INTRODUCTION During the past three or four years, the concept of ‘open innovation’ has received wide attention by practitioners and researchers. This concept implies that ﬁrms increasingly rely on external sources of innovation by emphasizing that ideas, resources and individuals ﬂow in and out of organizations (Chesbrough 2003a). In this chapter we assume a critical view of the concept and show that the idea of systematically using external sources of innovation is not particularly new, and that there has been a strong research tradition on this topic for decades. We undertake a critical examination of the concept, as deﬁned by Chesbrough, and expose its weaknesses and limitations. Reviewing earlier work, we demonstrate that the dichotomy between open versus closed is not useful and that openness provides a more interesting avenue to explore. Extending this argument, we propose that openness has been conceptualized and operationalized in fundamentally diﬀerent ways. In doing so, we chart an area for future studies to explore. It is important to remember that the concept is gaining in signiﬁcance in the context of research on university–industry interactions (Fontana et al. 2006; Laursen and Salter 2004), and among policy makers who appear to be promoting greater degrees of collaboration. Emphasis on collaboration between universities and industry is accentuated in the UK, where, in spite of a strong research tradition, it is considered that there is less success in harnessing research expertise than in some...
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