September 6, 2011

The Open Innovation (Web 2.0) Community

When Henry Chesbrough and I relaunched last year as the Open Innovation Community, one of our major goals was to create a community by which open innovation scholars could meet to discuss important issues. (Here I confine my focus to the role of the OIC for an academic audience, which we see as distinct from the industry audience that the revamped website now serves).

To reach a broader academic audience, one obvious approach was to work with our former co-author, Wim Vanhaverbeke, to leverage the Exonovate network of scholars that he has built in Europe. (This was even more obvious because Wim and Hank are part-time faculty at ESADE in Barcelona, where they have been organizing OI classes for industry and PhD students.)

However, Henry and I also decided to form an academic advisory board and — to overcome the bias of our being in the same country and state — get a broader geographic representation. We approached three promising young open innovation scholars. (Young in this case being a relative term).

We were pleased when all three of our first choices agreed to serve: Oliver Alexy (Imperial College London), Sabine Brunswicker (Fraunhofer IAO) and Alberto Di Minin (Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna). Not surprisingly, all have been (or will be) speakers at Henry’s open innovation speaker series at UC Berkeley.

Oliver has been quietly adding information about teaching cases to the OIC teaching section. He also plans to add syllabi, teaching modules and other material that would be useful to faculty teaching classes about (or including) open innovation topics.

Alberto has launched a Facebook page that is the first official OIC presence away from the OIC website. The page can be found at We are also discussing possibly creating communities on other popular sites, such as LinkedIn or Xing.

Sabine is planning for discussions on the OIC website itself. Our goal would be to develop conversations on the website about any content that’s on the site. We also plan to link these discussions with Henry’s Twitter feed and this blog.

As with the rest of the web, there is a fine balancing act between encouraging conversations and attracting spam. I know from my own blogs that attempts to post overt spam (links to promote commercial transactions) are quite common. But I also know from the 1.0 website, email discussions and of course conference presentation that academics are often tempted by free opportunities for blatant self-promotion. (“The best OI paper ever published is … mine!”).

So the advisory board will be having discussions about the best way to encourage healthy conversations about ideas and opportunities — whether for research or teaching — that are relevant to open innovation scholars. Please feel free to contact any of us with your ideas or suggestions.

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