Open Innovation: Past Research, Current Debates, and Future Directions

Lichtenthaler, Ulrich
February 2011
Academy of Management Perspectives;Feb2011, Vol. 25 Issue 1, p75
Academic Journal
The concept of open innovation has recently gained widespread attention. It is particularly relevant now because many firms are required to implement open innovation, despite the difficulties associated with managing these activities. After providing a definition of open innovation delimiting it from open source, an overview of prior research is given, which identifies the following important topics of earlier open innovation research: technology transactions, user innovation, business models, and innovation markets. In light of current controversial debates about the value of the open innovation framework, we evaluate the literature and assess whether open innovation is a sustainable trend rather than a management fashion. On this basis, we present a conceptual framework that provides the foundation for discussing critical open innovation processes and their implications for managing open innovation at the organizational, project, and individual level. Thus, we assess the multilevel determinants of the make-or-buy, integrate-or-relate, and keep-or-sell decisions in opening up the innovation process. Then, we propose a research agenda based on this conceptual framework with particular emphasis on the organizational antecedents and performance consequences of open innovation and on important research design issues. Finally, we discuss implications for management education and practice, and we provide a conclusion and outlook.


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