March 31, 2009

Scientific user-generated content

On Monday we had a 4.3 earthquake centered near San Jose. It was the strongest earthquake I recall in 15 years, probably because I was on the 5th floor of a concrete building that swayed for more than 10 seconds.

I quickly went to earthquake.usgs.gov to verify the magnitude. But what I hadn’t noticed is that they also have an automated system for gathering and displaying citizen responses. The system gathers location data (by zip or street address) and then walks through a structured questionnaire to classify local intensity from I (not felt) to X (very heavy damage).
This is a great example of user-generated content, in some ways better than Wikipedia. There are less motivations for bias (than, say, editing a post on abortion of George Bush). There are a larger number of reports, quickly, that tend to minimize the effect of error by any one contributor.

Most importantly, unlike Wikipedia, the aggregation of earthquake observations does not require any coordination or personal editing to aggregate the disparate contributions into a coherent whole.

Will we see self-reported epidemiology? Alas, between hypochondria and the litigation lottery mentality in this country, there is a much higher risk of self-serving bias for such reports than for earthquakes.

March 28, 2009

CFP: TASM special issue on Open Innovation

The journal Technology Analysis and Strategic Management (TASM) has posted a call for papers for papers on open innovation, with a particular emphasis on high-tech small firms (HTSFs).

Here are excerpts from the CFP:

Special Issue:
Managing open innovation in current and emerging intermediaries in the technology transfer process

Guest Editors: Brendan Galbraith and Rodney McAdam, University of Ulster, Northern Ireland

Subject Coverage

We welcome a broad range of theoretical and empirical contributions to our understanding of managing open innovation in current and emerging intermediaries in the technology transfer process. Topics may include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • The role of HTSFs in open innovation ecosystems and their relationship with other actors such as intermediaries and large firms
  • The open innovation processes, facilitators and challenges in science parks and incubators
  • Open business models of innovation intermediaries
  • Theoretical approaches that integrate open innovation with science parks and incubators
  • Management implications of the co-creation of IP for HTSFs, large firms and science parks and incubators
  • Network relationships and appropriation regimes of innovation intermediaries
  • Typology of the range, diversity and function of innovation intermediaries
  • An appraisal of Chesbrough’s (2006) innovation intermediaries and existing intermediaries. Are they more open and effective in terms of speed, cost and reach?
  • The application of user methods such as innovation toolkits and the lead user method to new contexts (eg. E-Health, eTourism, e-Energy, e-Government), and the role of an intermediary?
The submission deadline is October 1, 2009, with expedited reviews promised by November 15.

March 10, 2009

Open innovation by acquisition

One of the key issues we faced in working on our 2006 book was coming up with a newer and more precise definition of “what is open innovation.” Henry Chesbrough wrote a revised definition that we used in the opening chapter; I’ve elaborated on this broader question since then.

However, one of the corner cases we wrestled with was open innovation by acquisition. This classification question was raised in Chapter 4, in the analysis of digital amplifiers written by Jens Frøslev Christensen.

In such cases, the innovation takes place outside the boundaries of the firm. Once acquired, the innovation has become vertically integrated (in a Chandlerian since) within the boundaries of the firm.

One of the big innovation stories in the news this week is a culmination of Roche’s $20b offer to buy the remainder of Genentech. This paragraph from this morning’s WSJ interpreted it as representing a broader trend:
Large pharmaceutical companies are abandoning the notion that they could build new drug pipelines on their own. Instead, Merck & Co., Pfizer Inc., and Roche have each placed huge bets that biotechnology companies are their best path to future sales gains.
If a big pharma firm partners to distribute compounds developed by startup biotech companies, that’s clearly open innovation. If they buy their former partner, it seems as though the openness is historical but not ongoing.

It would appear that the open innovation ends once the vertical integration begins. Or, as I’ve sometimes told students, open innovation is defined as “not vertical integration.”

March 6, 2009

Collaboration Systems for Open Innovation

Three Swedish academics are hosting a new forum for open innovation research, a minitrack at the annual HICSS conference.

The minitrack, entitled “Collaboration Systems for Open Innovation” is hosted by Stefan Hrastinski and Mats Edenius of Uppsala University and Niklas Z. Kviselius of the Stockholm School of Economics.

Here is the summary:
Hitherto, research on IT and open innovation has mainly explored how open innovation practices can stimulate the development of novel technologies. However, little research has studied how information technologies can support open innovation practices. ….
In this minitrack, we welcome papers that explore how various collaboration systems can enable and support open innovation in inter-organizational and intra-organizational settings, and in user and consumer networks.
The way HICSS works, there are minitracks and track. Each minitrack is 3-10 papers, but the broader tracks have a little more thematic coherence.

HICSS is an interesting conference; I ran a minitrack there for five years on standards and standardization. The conference is well suited for those with interests in MIS or CS, with all the various tracks and sessions in this area. Plus, of course, it’s in Hawai‘i: people love the environment and always seem to be in a good mood.