Research Theme: New Modes of Innovation: Managerial and Strategic Business Practice and Open Innovation
Project Leaders: Dr Andy Cosh, Dr Joanne Jin Zhang (Research Fellow)
Researchers: Professor Alan Hughes, Dr Ammon Salter, Dr Oliver Alexy, Michael Kitson, Dr Tim Minshall, Gerald Avison (TTP), Chas Sims (TTP)
The growth of knowledge intensive businesses has been contemporaneous with the acknowledgement by many commentators that the innovation process in general has become more open (Chesbrough, 2006; Chesbrough, 2003; Coombs et al., 2004; Leadbeater, 2008; NESTA, 2006, 2007, 2008; von Hippel, 2005). Organisations are increasingly moving toward network-based forms of innovation, sourcing ideas through licensing agreements, formal alliances and mergers and acquisitions and the use of a wide variety of sources of knowledge for innovation (Baum et al., 2000; Birkinshaw et al., 2007; Cosh and Hughes, 2005; Powell et al., 1996).
The growth of interest in open innovation can be connected conceptually with the development and adoption of a systems approach to the analysis of innovation at national, international, regional, sectoral and technological domains level. Systems consisting of organisations such as firms, customers and the research base interact with each other in particular institutional contexts in terms of for instance regulatory frameworks, cultural attitudes and intellectual property regimes.
Although attempts to examine open innovation using the UK innovation survey have made some progress (Abreu et al 2007, 2008; Laursen and Salter, 2006) we lack in-depth data at the sectoral level and a clear theoretical understanding of how firms build capabilities to be open and how they can successful integrate external actors into their innovation processes. Our research proposals are couched in terms of the analysis of specific sectoral systems as well as the differences across sectoral systems , seeking to develop generalisible lessons for the evolution of policy structures and methods of assessment (see e.g. Malerba 2004; Woolthuis, Lankhuizen and Gilsing 2005; Bergak, et al 2008).
Implications for Policy and Practice
This project will shed light on the mechanisms and competences required to foster open innovation. It will show which management practices are crucial for the innovation process and which can help develop absorptive capacity and the optimal access of external knowledge. Furthermore it will show how these mechanisms evolve and vary across time and sector. A particular focus of the work will be to consider the implications for policy design of augmenting market failure principals with a systems failure approach.