June 27, 2012

End of the great OI summit

This week’s #oi2012 conference at Imperial College London was a great success, if the comments that I heard and the surveys returned are representative of the attendees at large.

While the conference was organized to help develop papers for our special issue, in retrospect it also served another purpose — perhaps the largest gathering of leading open innovation scholars in one place at one time since the publication of Open Innovation in 2003.

I realize that’s a strong claim to make, but I’ve been racking my brain to come up with a comparable conference in the past nine years. Certainly there were sessions at DRUID or AOM (2004 and 2005 come to mind) with a diverse range of talent. I’ve attended very interesting OI tracks at EURAM and UOI, but not when the big names were in the room.

Obviously this was no coincidence, as we invited a range of recognized scholars to submit their work for the conference. 34 of the 60 attendees were authors or co-authors of one of the plenary papers, with another 8 authors of posters present. (Most of the remainder were affiliated with Imperial or UK~IRC, two of the three conference sponsors). As Frank Piller pointed out to me later, the attraction of the special issue also attracted better quality work than one would normally find at a conference.

The attendance validated our assumptions about where the center of open innovation research is: 56 of the 60 attendees (or 30 of the 34 plenary paper authors) came from Europe. In the original discussions, we considered holding it in Berkeley, but — as predicted — London proved to be the ideal central location, reachable by local train, Eurostar, intra-European and (for four of us) transatlantic flights. (We were disappointed not to have any research from Asia, but hopefully that will be remedied in the special issue submissions.)

The nature of the attendees demonstrates the vibrancy of field (stream? movement?) of open innovation. The discussion was vigorous and spirited, with authors getting welter of ideas of how to improve their work. We deliberately allocated half of the presentation for discussion, by some combination of the discussant and the audience. Several times I had to bite my tongue — when presenters were arguing with those trying to help improve the paper, rather than quickly thanking them for the suggestions and using the time to solicit for further feedback. (We also had good participation at the posters — not as many people hearing each poster, but for some authors, as many people providing feedback as in the plenary session).
In addition to the four guest editors, strong comments came from Oliver Alexy, Joachim Henkel, John Hagedoorn, Todd Zenger and (on Tuesday) Massimo Colombo and Keld Laursen. (Near the close of the conference, I think the authors were cringing when either Laursen or Salter proceeded to identify the key weakness of the paper). Our objective was not to showcase polished work, but to help the authors achieve the maximal benefit from the conference through feedback that anticipates future reviewer concerns.

That said, I think George von Krogh stole the show. Yes, he’s senior, thoughtful, serious and for a decade has run Europe’s largest research group examining issues of external innovation and communities. Still, I’ve never seen him present any paper on open innovation before, and the title of his paper (“How Firms Formulate Sharable Problems…”) I'm sure left some people scratching their head — until they heard his presentation, when many of us asked ourselves: “why didn’t someone study this before?”

With 30 papers, I’d be hard pressed to identify a trend. However, some issues came up more than once. One point was that while people agree we need more work on outbound innovation (a point Marcel and I made in our study of inbound OI), several people pointed out that the practices did not begin with OI — but instead tie at least a decade (e.g. Arora et al 2001) to the markets for technology literature.

At the same time, outbound OI is more than just licensing technology. This is a point Joanne Zhang and Andy Cosh hinted at in their presentation.

In fact, many of us are eager to learn more from Cosh, Zhang and others of the UK~IRC about what they’ve learned from the UK~IRC survey of 1,202 UK companies in manufacturing and services. With a questionnaire more tailored to OI issues, the Cambridge & Imperial papers from the study promise to (at least briefly) supplant studies from the Community Innovation Survey in providing large-scale evidence of OI practices.

While I don’t know that we can repeat it, I know that all of us are grateful — as Ben Martin acknowledged Tuesday — for the contribution of those who came as well as our own success in attracting and organizing the program. That the conference happened at all was due in large part to the tireless and methodical efforts of Maryam Philpott in making it all happen.

No matter how good the conference, in the end what it leaves behind is good memories: like footprints in the sand, they will be soon washed or blown away, forgotten forever (unless you live next to Vesuvius). In our case, we had no volcano, but there is a scrapbook of my photos from the conference is available on Picasa.

Today the editors met for three hours to discuss the special issue. General and specific guidance will be forthcoming to the authors of the 30 papers to better help them prepare for the August 31 deadline. (Other high-quality submissions are of course welcome.)

Thanks again to all who came. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

June 26, 2012

Running a special issue

The nominal reason for this week’s #oi2012 conference at Imperial was to prepare authors and manuscripts for the special issue of Research Policy. (The real reason was to get some of the best open innovation scholars in the world under one roof to teach and learn from each other).

Our VIP guest for the conference was Ben Martin of SPRU, who is lead editor of Research Policy and perhaps the most visible tie remaining to Keith Pavitt, Chris Freeman and the earlier era of SPRU and RP.

In his opening talk Monday, he presented his “20 challenges for innovation studies (from his paper for the Lundvall festschrift). He didn’t have time to present the trends of publication in RP (which having hard data I thought was more practical); instead, he focused on his predictions of future trends which were (as promised) provocative but at times somewhat implausible.

In a brief talk Tuesday just before lunch, Martin spoke about something nearer to the hearts of the assembled audience of OI researchers — how a Research Policy special issue works. He talked about the guidelines and heuristics RP as developed to get special issues that provide both quality and integration.

After seeing the first day and a half of this week’s conference, Martin then congratulated the prospective authors (and the four guest editors) for what he considered a “model special issue”:
  • “An important topical theme,” as demonstrated by the interest and discussion
  • An integration of papers that demonstrates the value of publishing them together in a special issue as being superior to separate publication
  • An experienced, respected team
  • A call that leads to a large number of papers. (As Martin noted, the editors dropped those that “made a perfunctory link to the theme.”)
  • Bringing the papers together in a workshop is “necessary not sufficient”; an effective workshop also means
    • exposing the papers to criticism, getting good “focused criticism” from the guest editor(s) and exposing the ideas to “an audience of expert peers.”
    • an opportunity to hear and read other papers, to build in links between the papers.
This what RP looks for in a special issue — and, I submit, what the guest editors have done thus far. All that Martin’s praise cost us was a Pimm’s at Monday night’s dinner.

Finally, he encouraged the audience a submit their own proposal in the future for one of the 2-3 annual special issues of Research Policy.

June 25, 2012

Open Innovation workshop: Day One

This morning we kicked off the two-day open innovation workshop (#OI2012) at Imperial College London. The four editors of the special issues were on hand to hear Ben Martin (lead editor of Research Policy) talk about 20 challenges for innovation studies going forward.

We have a very impressive lineup of 22 papers and 8 posters which promise to move the study of open innovation forward. With 60 attendees registered — all interested in open innovation — the two days promise to have a vigorous discussion of the papers and the field going forward.

We are quite pleased with the participation of authors and attendees. The vigorous discussion should help both the individual papers and the overall portfolio of work that we receive in August for the Research Policy special issue.

Below is the program for this week’s conference:

First Plenary Session; Chair: Ammon Salter
  • Alfonso Gambardella, Claudio Panico: Closed or Open Models? Investigating the Governance of Open Innovation
  • Jingshu Du, Bart Leten, Wim Vanhaverbeke: Does Open Innovation Improve the Performance of R&D Projects?
  • Alex Alexiev: Firm Openness in the Pursuit of Exploratory Innovation: The Role of the Organization Information Environment
Second Plenary Session; Chair: Henry Chesbrough
  • Andrea Mina, Elif Bascavusoglu-Moreau, Alan Hughes: Open Service Innovation And The Firm's Search For External Knowledge
  • Rene Belderbos, Bruno Cassiman, Dries Faems, Bart Leten, Bart Van Looy: Costs and Benefits of Open Innovation: Partner Heterogeneity in Technology Alliances
  • Ana Luiza de Araújo Burcharth, Mette Praest Knudsen, Helle Alsted Søndergaard: Disentangling Open Innovation Practices, The Use Of Inter-Organizational Relationships And Their Mutual Impact On Innovation Performance
Third Plenary Session; Chair: Wim Vanhaverbeke
  • Teppo Felin, Todd Zenger: Open Innovation, Problem-Solving and the Theory of the Firm
  • Georg von Krogh, Martin Wallin, Jan Henrik Sieg: A problem in becoming: How firms formulate sharable problems for innovation contests
  • Benedikt Langner, Victor Seidel: Competing with friends: A field study of community-based competitions at Threadless and Local Motors
  • Katja Hutter, Johann Füller, Carina Thurridl: When the Crowd gets Messy – How to Avoid Open Innovation Disasters?
Poster Session and Conference Dinner
  • Karolin Frankenberger, Dirk Voelz, Oliver Gassmann: Network Embeddedness and Performance of Open Innovation Initiatives: The Role Network Type
  • Rasmus Koss Hartmann, Christoph Hienerth: Public Sector Organizations as ‘User Innovators’: Openness in the Development of Regulation Inside Government
  • Steven Casper, Marcela Miozzi: Contracting for Innovation in Science Based Industry: the Evolution of Industry Partnerships with Universities
  • Gordon Müller-Seitz, Jorg Sydow: Open Innovation at the Interorganizational Network Level – Collaborative Practices in a Semiconductor Industry Consortium
  • Massimo Colombo, Evila Piva, Francesco Rentocchini, Cristina Rossi-Lamastra: Collaboration with the Open Source Community and Entrepreneurial Ventures’ Innovation Performance: The Depth and Breadth of Community Knowledge Leveraging
  • Lance Newey, Stephanie Schleimer: Open but not Dynamic: How Open Innovation Differs as a Dynamic Capability Across Firms
  • Volker Nestle, Florian Täube: Open Innovation in Clusters – Framework and Empirical Evidence on the Effects of cluster Management in R&D-Intensive Industries
  • Robin Teigland, Paul Di Gangi, Zeynep Yetis: Setting The Stage: Exploring The Sustainability Of A Private-Collective Community
Fourth Plenary Session; Chair: Joel West
  • John Hagedoorn, Ann-Kristin Ridder: Open Innovation, Contracts, and Intellectual Property Rights: An Exploratory Empirical Study
  • Linus Dahlander, Henning Piezunka: Cultivating Openness Through Relationships With Communities
  • Frank Piller, Christoph Ihl, Philipp Wagner: Organizing for Open Innovation - Aligning Internal Structure and External Knowledge Sourcing
Fifth Plenary Session; Chair: Henry Chesbrough
  • Keld Laursen, Ammon Salter: The Paradox of Openness: Appropriability and the Use of External Sources of Knowledge for Innovation
  • Andy Cosh, Joanne Zhang: Ambidexterity and Open Innovation in Small and Medium Sized Firms
  • Letizia Mortara, Simon Ford, Tim Minshall, David Probert: Inbound Open Innovation: a Technology Acquisition Process Model
Sixth Plenary Session; Chair: Joel West
  • Cord Grünewald, Cornelius Herstatt: Control vs. Grow: The Influence of Selective Openness on Motivation and Perceived Fairness in Open Innovation Communities
  • Massimo Colombo, Evila Piva, Cristina Rossi-Lamastra: Collaborations with the Open Source Community and SMEs
  • Joachim Henkel, Simone Schoberl, Oliver Alexy: The Emergence of Openness: How Firms Discover and Intensify Engagement in Selective Revealing
Seventh Plenary Session; Chair: Ammon Salter
  • Marcel Bogers, Joel West: Innovation Beyond the Firm: Integrating Distributed Perspectives on Innovation Creation and Commercialization
  • Henry Lopez Vega, Frederik Tell, Wim Vanhaverbeke: Intermediated External Knowledge Acquisition: The Knowledge Benefits and Tensions
  • Henry Chesbrough, Eric Chen: The Recovery of Abandoned Compounds: A Proposal for Constructing a Platform for Secondary Markets in Pharmaceutical Drug Development