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Opening up the strategy-making process: Comparing open strategy to open innovation


  • Leonhard Dobusch

    () (Department of Management, Freie Universität Berlin)

  • David Seidl

    () (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)

  • Felix Werle

    () (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)


In this paper we compare the emerging field of open strategy to the established field of open innovation in order to facilitate their cross-fertilisation both in research and practice. Taking a communication-centred perspective, we argue that in both fields ‘openness’ concerns opening-up the communication process towards previously excluded individuals. On the basis of our review of the literature, we introduce a general framework that distinguishes between two dimensions of openness in terms of the direction that communication takes: sharing communication content with external participants and audiences and receiving communication content from external participants and audiences. Using the two dimensions of sharing and receiving, we map documented cases of empirical research in both fields and identify different forms of openness in processes of open innovation and open strategy. As we will show, in the material that we examined, in most of the cases of open strategy sharing and receiving are combined, while in many cases of open innovation we identified only one dimension. We suggest that this difference arises because, unlike innovation, open strategy typically involves joint sensemaking and thus a bidirectional communication process. Drawing on our findings, we put forward three propositions to provide a foundation for future empirical research on phenomena of open innovation and open strategy

Suggested Citation

  • Leonhard Dobusch & David Seidl & Felix Werle, 2015. "Opening up the strategy-making process: Comparing open strategy to open innovation," Working Papers 359, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
  • Handle: RePEc:zrh:wpaper:359

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dahlander, Linus & Gann, David M., 2010. "How open is innovation?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 699-709, July.
    2. West, Joel, 2003. "How open is open enough?: Melding proprietary and open source platform strategies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1259-1285, July.
    3. Henkel, Joachim & Schöberl, Simone & Alexy, Oliver, 2014. "The emergence of openness: How and why firms adopt selective revealing in open innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(5), pages 879-890.
    4. Ruth Schmitt, 2010. "Dealing with Wicked Issues: Open Strategizing and the Camisea Case," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 96(1), pages 11-19, August.
    5. Christensen, Jens Froslev & Olesen, Michael Holm & Kjaer, Jonas Sorth, 2005. "The industrial dynamics of Open Innovation--Evidence from the transformation of consumer electronics," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 1533-1549, December.
    6. Füller, Johann & Schroll, Roland & von Hippel, Eric, 2013. "User generated brands and their contribution to the diffusion of user innovations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(6), pages 1197-1209.
    7. R. Whittington & Ludovic Cailluet & B. Yakis-Douglas, 2011. "Opening Strategy: Evolution of a Precarious Profession," Post-Print halshs-00738389, HAL.
    8. Allen, Robert C., 1983. "Collective invention," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 1-24, March.
    9. Henkel, Joachim, 2006. "Selective revealing in open innovation processes: The case of embedded Linux," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 953-969, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Werner H. Hoffmann & Lukas Meusburger, 2018. "How CEO Values and TMT Diversity Jointly Influence the Corporate Strategy Making Process," Schmalenbach Business Review, Springer;Schmalenbach-Gesellschaft, vol. 70(2), pages 149-187, May.

    More about this item


    communication perspective; forms of openness; open strategy; open innovation; sensemaking;

    JEL classification:

    • D79 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Other
    • D89 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Other
    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • M19 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Other

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