More open than open innovation? Rethinking the concept of openness in innovation studies
This paper re-examines the concept of open innovation developed in organization sciences (Chesbrough, 2003a). We claim that this paradigm, which insists on the distributive nature of innovation among a wide range of heterogeneous actors, does not put enough emphasis on the condition of access to knowledge. Yet, the open dimension of knowledge is a very important feature to sustain a collective mode of innovation. We propose therefore a stronger definition of open innovation, which is based on three constitutive characteristics: (i) Firms voluntarily release knowledge; (ii) Knowledge is open, i.e. is available to all interested parties without discrimination; (iii) dynamic interactions take place among the stakeholders to enrich the open knowledge base. Examples that fit our definition of open innovation are open science, user centered innovation (von Hippel, 2005), free-libre open source software, collective invention (Allen, 1983), etc. We conclude with a discussion on the role of IPR to secure open innovation.
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