The limits of open innovation:openness and (quasi-)markets in the organization of innovation


Recent studies have stressed the importance of ‘open innovation’ as a means of enhancing innovation performance. The essence of the open innovation model is to take advantage of external as well as internal knowledge sources in developing and commercialising innovation, so avoiding an excessively narrow internal focus in a key area of corporate activity. Although the external aspect of open innovation is often stressed, another key aspect involves maximising the flow of ideas and knowledge from different sources within the firm, for example through knowledge sharing via the use of cross-functional teams. A fully open innovation approach would therefore combine both aspects i.e. cross-functional teams with boundary-spanning knowledge linkages. This suggests that there should be complementarities between the use cross-functional teams with boundary-spanning knowledge linkages i.e. the returns to implementing open innovation in one innovation activity is should be greater if open innovation is already in place in another innovation activity. However, our findings – based on a large sample of UK and German manufacturing plants – do not support this view. Our results suggest that in practice the benefits envisaged in the open innovation model are not generally achievable by the majority of plants, and that instead the adoption of open innovation across the whole innovation process is likely to reduce innovation outputs. Our results provide some guidance on the type of activities where the adoption of a market-based governance structure such as open innovation may be most valuable. This is likely to be in innovation activities where search is deterministic, activities are separable, and where the required level of knowledge sharing is correspondingly moderate – in other words those activities which are more routinized. For this type of activity market-based governance mechanisms (i.e. open innovation) may well be more efficient than hierarchical governance structures. For other innovation activities where outcomes are more uncertain and unpredictable and the risks of knowledge exchange hazards are greater, quasi-market based governance structures such as open innovation are likely to be subject to rapidly diminishing returns in terms of innovation outputs.

Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Economics, Finance & Entrepreneurship
College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
Additional Information: Aston Business School Research Papers are published by the Institute to bring the results of research in progress to a wider audience and to facilitate discussion. They will normally be published in a revised form subsequently and the agreement of the authors should be obtained before referring to its contents in other published works.
Uncontrolled Keywords: open innovation,(quasi-)markets,complementarities,UK,Germany
ISBN: 978-1-85449-703-1
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2024 11:56
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2009 11:31
PURE Output Type: Working paper
Published Date: 2007-04
Authors: Roper, Stephen
Love, James H.
Du, Jun (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-0449-4437)



Version: Published Version

Export / Share Citation


Additional statistics for this record