Research Theme: Online Communities and the Dynamics of Distributed Innovation
Project Leaders: Professor Ammon Salter, Dr Martin Kilduff
Researchers: Dr Antoine Vernet, Dr Oliver Alexy
This theme examines distributed innovation in online communities that are responsible for many innovations, including software and services. They utilise a wide range of new information and communication technologies such as virtual worlds, message boards, wikis and social networking tools to solve problems, share ideas and informally develop products. What is missing is a deep understanding of how these communities emerge and evolve. Community members are often geographically dispersed and have to solve their problems using various communication technologies. In these situations the impetus for innovation shifts from the organisation to the network, where interactions between the actors forms a shared social structure where no one member of the group controls the network. For public and private organisations to work with these groups requires sustained coalitions of independent and autonomous individuals.
This project examines the pattern of emergence and evolution of these communities across different institutional domains. We will examine the following areas:
• What mechanisms drive and impel these communities?
• How are the rules of governance established?
• What impact do these have on communities diffusing innovation?
• How can we characterise and map motivations over time?
• What interventions act as stimuli for innovation in these communities?
We seek to understand how the power of online communities is shaped and harnessed to produce innovative outcomes and to develop best practice strategies for high-tech SMEs to access and develop sustainable business models based on specific sectoral innovation systems resulting from open innovation.