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Resolving the paradox of openness: A theory and empirical test of how open innovation influences technological output and appropriation

abstract Open innovation (OI), i.e. the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal
innovation and expand the markets for external use of innovation, has become a widespread trend
among firms from many industries (Chesbrough et al., 2006). In this research proposal we point to
theoretical inconsistencies and knowledge gaps that emerge from the ‘paradox of openness’. This
paradox emerges from a firm’s desire to search broadly and deeply among a set of external knowledge
sources that could benefit its innovatory activities, while at the same time having to protect proprietary
firm knowledge from being copied by competitors and other actors. Despite the growing research interest
in OI over the last years, the relationships between open innovation and its effects on the firm
are ambiguous and theoretically contradictory.
In this proposal we suggest to analyse two areas where such ambiguities and theoretical inconsistencies
are particularly disturbing, namely (1) the effect of OI on the firm’s technological output, and (2)
the effect of OI on the ability of the firm to appropriate the economic returns from its innovations. As
we will set out in this proposal, these two areas are highly relevant – both from a theoretical and a
practitioner’s perspective – yet they have not yet been addressed. Moreover, systematic theory development
is necessary, since conflicting and unresolved predictions about the presumed functional form
of the relationship (positive, negative, or curvilinear) exist.
Our proposal intends to advance the theoretical understanding of OI by doing systematic theory development
and empirical testing in an attempt to address the two above areas. To this effect we propose
the development of a new dataset specifically designed to analyse OI, since no in-depth data on OI are
readily at hand, and the existing large-scale innovation surveys lack important measures and in-depth
information about OI. We set out in detail how we intend to devise and implement this survey.
By this theoretical and empirical work, we show how our proposal can make multiple contributions to
theory, and how important implications for practitioners can be derived. Specifically, the intended
results can contribute to resolving the ambiguities and theoretical inconsistencies of today’s literature
that emerge from the paradox of openness.
   
keywords innovation, open innovation, appropriation, survey, longitudinal analysis
   
partner
type fundamental research project
status completed
start of project 2010
end of project 2012
additional informations
topics open innovation
methods quantitative, longitudinale Analyse
contact Marcus Matthias Keupp