December 6, 2014

The Final Day of WOIC 2014

Friday brought the second and final day of the World Open Innovation Conference in Napa. To me, the day seemed every bit as successful as the first — but perhaps that was just being able (as were other organizers) to unwind at the end of the day. By the end of the day, I was slightly dazed and confused, trying to juggle various hats: organizer, plenary presenter, tweeter (in a futile attempt to out-do Piller and Bogers), blogger and photographer.

To the latter point, my conference pictures are finally posted to Google’s Picasa. I wasted nearly an hour trying to get the (original and latest) client app to work — it’s not clear if it failed due to bugs in the software or in the user design. I finally gave up and created an album of some 90 photos using the web client.

Nonaka’s Rare Appearance
We were thrilled to be joined by Ikujiro Nonaka (author of the seminal knowledge creation research), and his willingness to attend both days of the conference. Given his age (79) and health, we were uncertain to the last minute whether or not he could make it.

Not surprisingly, he quoted Drucker and other work — in addition to his own 2011 HBR article — on the importance of knowledge for the success of modern firms. He also provided numerous examples of Japanese (and one Chinese) companies that empowered workers to enable their creativity and knowledge creation abilities.

Perhaps his most quoted example (at least on Friday) was the waigaya (open dialog) offsite process used by Honda. It required a “good location, good hotel, good food and good spa.” It seems to be a common team-building formula — except that (beyond Finland) the spa/sauna element is rarely used.

Showcase Presenters
Three papers were singled out by the program committee for special visibility due to the quality of their initial submission. (Some papers got much better when the final paper was submitted, but these papers had the most polished abstracts at the original deadline).

WIth “The Architecture of Evaluation Processes in Open Innovation Settings,” Christoph Hienerth discussed the difficulty of firms using crowds to evaluate the quality of inbound innovations. In particular, he outlined the tradeoffs between two forms of evaluation:
  • Validity by expertise: the feedback must come from those with specific skills
  • Validity by numbers: no skill is required, so the more feedback the better
Nicolette Lakemond presented “The Role of Knowledge Governance in Open Innovation,” by which firms must set different approaches to govern knowledge flows in support of their OI strategies. They identify two forms of governance — authority and consensus — and measure the impact of such efforts on innovation by manufacturing firms in Sweden, Finland and Italy.

The final showcase paper was presented by Jonathan Sims. Entitled “Inbound, Outbound and Coupled Open Innovation Practices in a Community Setting,” he examined the (non pecuniary) inbound and outbound flows by (mostly) small firms who are member of the Drupal open source community. He got the best laugh of the session with his slide labelled “Obligatory Strategy 2x2”.

Jonathan Sims with his obligatory 2x2
NASA Session is Out of this World
An unexpected surprise for attendees was the session on open innovation strategies at NASA. While only one of the projects was of cosmic significance — the intergalactic insights of the Spitzer space telescope — the session provided an in-depth understand of what happens at NASA (beyond the tournaments studied by Karim Lakhani).

Two of the presentations were qualitative studies by NYU Stern assistant professors: Hila Lifshitz-Assaf (a graduate of HBS) and Renee Rottner (a fellow UCI graduate). The third was given by Jeffrey Davis, director of the Human Health and Performance Center (formerly Space Life Science Directorate) at NASA.

Hila looked at what happened within NASA after the organization obtained ideas from its various contests. Among other things, she addressed two key gaps in the open innovation literature: a lack of research on the individual level impact on OI, and a need for research on how inbound external innovations are integrated once they’ve been discovered.

Renee Rottner explains how (boundary) shift happens.
Renee presented her study of 30 year odyssey that resulted in the 2003 launch of the Spitzer telescope. He study brings to OI the boundary spanners — something that was long overdue, but something I despaired of seeing done, given how little has been done recently. She had the best graphic of the day: showing what happens to a boundary spanning artifact (a bridge) when the boundary (a river) shifts.

Finally, Jeff explained the process by which the life science directorate at NASA recast its innovation strategies to make greater use of external knowledge. (As in many cases, the impetus was a reduction of funding). Having taken the Innocentive case under Karim, it was natural to involve Harvard in helping the directorate rework its strategies. It turns out that these efforts pioneered processes and structures that later were used to support inbound innovation activities elsewhere in NASA.

Other Events
Friday’s opening plenary ended with an the announcement by Fujitsu.: the Japanese computer company will be sponsoring a mobile TechShop trailer that will take the “maker” movement and STEM education to K-12 schools in California and the rest of the US.

Later Friday morning, Frank Piller organized brainstorming sessions where the attendees sought to address problems by three organizations: Saudi Aramco, the European Investment Bank and Natura Cosmetics (of Brazil). Given the cost of participating was just a registration for a company presenter, it seemed strange that no California companies wanted to participate — but perhaps this is related to the hubris of Silicon Valley.

Frank Piller presenting corporate problem challenges
As with Thursday, we had tremendous energy from the networking and discussions during lunch.

The Importance of Quality Feedback
Perhaps my enthusiasm at the end was because in the final two paper sessions Friday we presented two of our early stage papers (one by a co-author). As an author, I experienced first-hand the high quality of engagement and feedback from an obviously highly informed audience. Numerous people during (and afterwards) offered very helpful insights on our presentations: their investment of 20 minutes to listen to the talk and 5-10 minutes to follow up will pay us major dividends on both papers.

In principle, conference papers offer four benefits to the authors:
  • A line on the vita
  • The discipline of organizing your thoughts into a 10-15 minute presentation in oral form.
  • Signaling your interests and capabilities (usually to other academics, sometimes to the real world)
  • Getting feedback on your ideas
From 20 years of academic presentations, feedback seems to be a matter of fit between the audience and the author — both quantity (number who fit) and quality (how well they fit, and how well they know your literature).

This high quality feedback is something we saw at the 2012 London conference — which had 60 attendees (all in plenary) instead of 120. I’ve also enjoyed it at various platforms conferences over the years, because we have pretty a small niche and community. I’ve been less successful at the UOI conference, mainly because of the partial overlap between my OI work and von Hippel’s UI world; from what I’ve seen, the mainstream UI researchers get great feedback (unless their audience is in a competing session).

At the Academy, we can find this feedback at a pre-arranged presenter symposia — where both the panel and the audience are united by interest in a common topic — such as the communities and ecosystem panels at AOM this year. But it’s something I’ve rarely seen at Academy paper sessions, with their hodgepodge grouping in the name of fairness.

Frank Piller presented an amusing discussion of how open innovation has graduated from the pre-paradigmatic stage, and now needs to move on to being (in effect) Kuhnian normal science. With his permission, I am posting his slides to SlideShare.

While we await feedback (actual data) from our attendees, the general impression was that attendees really enjoyed the conference. When Henry Chesbrough asked how many plan to come back, almost every hand in the room went up. (We did have a few attendees who had to leave early).
Henry Chesbrough surveying participants on Friday afternoon.
The conference wouldn’t have happened without the work of the co-chairs — Chesbrough, Frank Piller, Chris Tucci (and yours truly). It also dependent on the staff and other resources of Chesbrough’s innovation center at Berkeley (the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation), including key staffers — Anita Stephens, Sohyeong Kim and Solomon Darwin.

I am personally confident that the next WOIC will be even more successful. Stay tuned for more details as we have them.

December 5, 2014

WOIC: Day 1

On Thursday, open innovation scholars enjoyed a very exuberant 1st day at the 1st annual World Open Innovation Conference in Napa.

As the day began, the audience received their own copy of the brand new — fresh off the pressesNew Frontiers in Open Innovation. (An $81 value!)

Chesbrough Keynote
The conference opened with Henry Chesbrough , summarizing the evolution of the OI concept from his 2003 book. He noted that when the book came out in April 2003, a google of "open innovation” produced 200 hits; exactly 10 years later, it was 450 million.

Henry Chesbrough listing 8 new aspects of
open innovation from Chesbrough (2006)
He also addressed some of the criticism of OI, including the "old wine in new bottles" one. One of his most photographed slides listed the 8 points of how OI is different from his (oft-cited) Chapter 1 of the 2006 book.

He offered 6 suggested areas for future research
  1. Clarity of definitions.
  2. Microfoundations
  3. Failure cases and boundary conditions — a call Henry has made for years, and continues to make every year at the ESADE PhD seminar
  4. Inside out (inbound) mode: too much of the front end, not enough of the back end (as Marcel Bogers and I documented in our 2014 JPIM article)
  5. Outside in (outbound) mode — which is both less practiced and (as documented in Bogers & West 2014) less studied.
  6. Rigorous evidence of performance impacts, which to date has included the Du et al paper from the 2014 special issue and the many CIS papers starting with the oft-cited Laursen & Salter (2006)
David Teece
Chesbrough next introduced David Teece, author of two seminal articles related to innovation strategy: Teece (1986) — profiting from innovation — and Teece et al (1997) — dynamic capabilities.

David Teece
He discussed how open innovation relates to dynamic capabilities. Both are in contrast to the Porter IO-derived model of resource control where successful firms try to have everything inside the boundaries of the firm. Today, firms need to have dynamic capabilities to combat the “red queen effect” — a concept of Lewis Carroll which Wikipedia helpfully notes is
"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
He sees OI as tied to the sensing, seizing and transforming framework of dynamic capabilities.

Open Oenology
Sohyeong Kim (a postdoc at Berkeley with Henry) led a session on “open oenology,” where the audience broke into groups to brainstorm solutions to improve the future revenue streams of the wine industry. Some of the ideas were a little wacky — vitamin-infused wine — but it seemed as though people were having fun coming up with innovative ideas.

A Research Agenda
I closed the plenary with a brief talk entitled “Open Innovation: A Research Agenda”. After recounting the (somewhat influential) research agenda that concluded our 2006 book, I adapted my blog post from last month to offer 6 areas of future research:
  1. Levels of Analysis beyond the two-firm dyad — as with the ecosystem session
  2. More on integrating inbound OI (from West & Bogers 2014)
  3. Better measurement — well evidenced here at the conference
  4. Tie to extant theory — covered by a session in the early afternoon (“Determinants of Open Innovation”)
  5. Nonpecuniary motivations — inspired by Dahlander & Gann (2010), but currently being pushed by Alberto Di Minin
  6. Role of Appropriability — something I argued for in my 2006 chapter and was well represented in both the 2014 special issue and Thursday’s session on IP & Appropriability
As promised, the slides have been uploaded to SlideShare.

After that plenary, we had a great session of 11 posters over wine (and a little bit of beer). The discussions seemed quite lively — even before the attendees had earned their drink tickets by providing feedback — but the discussion level rose by 5-6 decibels after everyone had a drink in their hand.
Adrian Kovacs summarizes his paper during the poster session  
I am hoping to upload all the photos (as I did at the London 2012 conference), but right now the Picasa client is not cooperating so I will need to spend more time figuring out a workaround to Google’s attempts at lock-in.

November 25, 2014

All-star lineup for 1st World Open Innovation Conference

The schedule for the 1st World Open Innovation Conference has now been posted to the conference website. The conference will be held December 4-5 in Napa Valley, California. Conference host Henry Chesbrough has issued a press release announcing the conference program, which concludes:
“No other innovation conference has gathered so much talent from both industry and academia at the same time in the same place,” Chesbrough said.
On the academic side, the conference features keynotes by David Teece (who wrote the intro to our 2006 book) and Ikujiro Nonaka (who wrote the intro to our 2014 book). There will be 43 papers across 14 sessions, plus 12 posters over wine before the Thursday night dinner. Three of the 43 papers were singled out for showcase presentation because they had the strongest reviews of all submissions:
  • Christoph Hienerth and Frederik Riar: The Architecture of Evaluation Processes in Open Innovation Settings
  • Nicolette Lakemond, Lars Bengtsson, Keld Laursen and Fredrik Tell: The Role of Knowledge Governance in Open Innovation
  • Jonathan Sims: Inbound, Outbound and Coupled Open Innovation Practices in a Community Setting 
Based on their initial reviews, these papers (and nine others) are also invited to participate in the ICC special section.

One important difference from most innovation conferences is the involvement of industry professionals throughout the conference. This includes both keynote sessions, a solution-seeking workshop, a session on industry OI experiences, and a session on OI in the wine industry.

After worrying if we could fill the Silverado Resort, the conference is sold out — with 120 attendees (the room capacity) and a waiting list of would-be attendees being turned away. Given the interest, I think it's safe to say there will be other WOIC conferences in the future.

On behalf of the conference chairs — Chris Tucci, Frank Piller, Henry Chesbrough and Joel West — we look forward to welcoming these 100+ attendees to California and an intense (and hopefully enjoyable) forum for discussing open innovation.

Update Nov 26: Upload and link the revised program released Wednesday.

October 27, 2014

Open Innovation: A 2014 Research Agenda

One of the main goals of the Chesbrough/Vanhaverbeke/West 2006 book was to shape the research agenda of the open innovation. Our final chapter was immodestly entitled “Open innovation: a research agenda” (West, Vanhaverbeke and Chesbrough, 2006). According to Google it has 189 cites — not the most influential chapter in the book (which is Chesbrough, 2006) — nor as well cited as key lit reviews (e.g. Dahlander & Gann, 2010), but still not bad for a book chapter.

This year, there have been several other articles that claim to summarize the current literature and suggest topics for future research. Yes, some of these are my articles, but I think together I think they provide the best summary of OI research opportunities today.

Since I'm trying to write a short encyclopedia article on open innovation — and want to make it different from my 2011 article — it seemed a good time to review what’s been written recently. It helps that several of these articles are associated with large new batches of OI research (i.e. the June 2014 special issue of Research Policy and the forthcoming New Frontiers in Open Innovation), and thus are directly tied to some of the latest work.

Journal of Product Innovation Management (West and Bogers, 2014)

This article was previously summarized on this blog. With the benefit of time, the two things that seems most often mentioned from this article are:
  • The four stage model (Figure 1 and most of the text) on how firms utilize external innovation, and the fact that we need more research on what happens when these innovations come into firms and are brought to market
  • The fact that almost all OI research is about the inbound process, with very little about the outbound process (Figure 2).

Chapter 1 of New Frontiers in Open Innovation (Chesbrough & Bogers, 2014)

In Table 1.3, Chesbrough and Bogers look at the 20 most cited articles on OI, and indicate whether they relate to one of the following 7 topics:
  • Strategy
  • Product development
  • Innovation process
  • Toolkits/users
  • Limits/risks/costs
  • University
  • Environmental context
Just for fun, in Figure 1.3 they offer a word cloud form the abstracts of nearly 1,000 articles, chapters and proceedings papers taken from SSCI for 2003-2012.

Consistent with a renewed interest in non-pecuniary OI (see below), page 17 offers the new canonical Chesbrough definition of what open innovation is, replacing earlier definitions:
we define open innovation as a distributed innovation process based on purposively managed knowledge flows across organizational boundaries, using pecuniary and non-pecuniary mechanisms in line with the organization’s business model.
Research Policy (West, Salter, Vanhaverbeke & Chesbrough, 2014)

This is the introductory article for the nine peer-reviewed articles of the special issue. The discussion of trends was first drafted by Salter and West (utilizing time spent over breakfast in Bath a year ago).

The main themes are summarized by a quote from page 807 of the article (emphasis added):
The papers in this SI reflect three emerging themes in open innovation research. The first is newer and better approaches to measuring open innovation. The second is a more sophisticated (and nuanced) understanding of the role of appropriability in enabling open innovation. The third comprises efforts to more closely integrate open innovation with established theories of management and economics. Here we review these three themes, and three others that (while not represented in the special issue) will also shape the conception of open innovation in its second decade: coupled innovation, nonpecuniary motivations and multi-level analysis.
The measurement issue seems pretty self explanatory: it’s important trend but one that is both expected and easily understood for a new body of work. The opening article of the entire special issue by Dahlander and Piezunka (2014) — both the first article finished and one of the strongest throughout the process — looks at external knowledge sourcing with a massive database that circumvents previous sampling bias problems.

Appropriability is a longstanding topic in OI, going back to the 2006 book (West, 2006) if not before; the special issue includes not only the expected article by Henkel and colleagues (2014) on the topic, but a new article by the dynamic duo of OI econometrics, Laursen & Salter (2014).

The questions of established theories and levels of analysis come up again, so I’ll discuss them separately below. The topic of coupled OI is near and dear to my heart — my major research emphasis today — but because I talked about it a few months ago (in the context of the Piller and West 2014 book chapter), I’ll save that for another time.

The nonpecuniary motivations is a helpful extension that Dahlander & Gann (2010) used to distinguish forms of OI that are motivated by profit (or greed) and those that are not. They (looking back) summarize how research has considered the motivations of organizational actors for a given knowledge flow. In the new book Chesbrough & Di Minin (2014) extend this to its logical conclusion: how does OI apply to government and other non-profit organizations? Their discussion of “open social innovation” fills an important gap in OI research.

Chapter 15 of New Frontiers in Open Innovation (Vanhaverbeke et al, 2014a)

The (Vanhaverbeke-led) final chapter of the book provides a separate (but overlapping) classification of OI research trends. For clarity, I disassemble the paragraph of prose into numbered bullet points:
  1. we discuss the need to connect (and integrate) open innovation research into mainstream management theories.
  2. we look for possible extensions of open innovation research into new application fields, such as SMEs, low-tech firms, and non-profit organizations. Open innovation also has several implications for public policy and multinational companies.
  3. we elaborate on the need to examine open innovation at different levels of analysis.
  4. we identify the need to develop frameworks to understand how companies must change internally to successfully apply open innovation.
  5. we highlight how open innovation has implications for functions beyond R&D that have not traditionally been involved in implementing open innovation: such as HRM, PR, and legal.
The first and third items are discussed below. The second was a natural theme for the book and the summary, since there was a conscious effort to solicit chapters about SMEs, MNCs and nonprofits.

The issue of organizational change needed to support open innovation is a longstanding puzzle in OI research. It’s a topic most closely associate with the various studies of Tim Minshall and Letizia Mortara of the University of Cambridge (and UK Innovation Research Centre), who penned an update on their research (Mortara & Minshall, 2014) for the book.

Finally, the question of OI outside R&D was a real head-scratcher for me when Vanhaverbeke first suggested it. However, in straining to find enough articles to mention in this section, he convinced me this is a real gap — and thus an opportunity —for OI researchers.

Levels of Analysis

Extending West et al (2006), Chesbrough & Bogers (2014) suggest five levels of analysis:
  • Individual/Group
  • Firm/Organization
  • Network
  • Industry/Sector
  • National/Institutional
(Unfortunately, I didn’t catch that this was an obsolete list, since for more than five years we’ve known that community is an important level of analysis distinct from networks and industries).

More recently, the work of Vanhaverbeke not only points to the importance of understanding differences within a firm on how the firm uses open innovation, but identified the level of the R&D project as an important way to operationalize that variation. They did a series of studies (Du et al 2014; Vanhaverbeke et al 2014b) in a large “European” multinational.

So, I believe the complete list would be
  • Individual/Group
  • Project
  • Firm/Organization
  • Network/Ecosystem
  • Community
  • Industry/Sector
  • National/Supranational
Since institutions can exist at many levels, my own impression is that they don’t count as a separate level of analysis: most of what we call “institutions” govern at the industry or national level, with some institutionalized governance acting upon networks and communities.

Linking OI to Mainstream Theories

Both of the summary articles (West, Salter, Vanhaverbeke & Chesbrough, 2014; Vanhaverbeke, Chesbrough, West, 2014) note the importance of linking OI to mainstream theories. Although I’m a co-author on both articles, it’s fair to say that the discussions on this trend more closely match the view of Salter and Vanhaverbeke, respectively.

Here’s how the first summary article put it:
Although the original Open Innovation book drew on deep currents of research in the broader traditions of management and economics, it did not itself seek to directly align to existing under- pinning theories in these fields. Over the past 10 years, researchers have sought to find mapping of concepts of open innovation to more general theories about the nature of the firm and its boundaries (Vanhaverbeke and Cloodt, 2014).
concluding with a nod to a think piece (in New Frontiers) that links OI to theories of the firm. It then points to three articles in the special issue: one on diversification via OI (Colombo et al, 2014), one a model of property rights and OI (Gambardella & Panico, 2014), and one that applies the level of the project to classify OI (Felin & Zenger, 2014).

The second summary article (Vanhaverbeke et al, 2014a) makes a similar point
The open innovation literature originated with reflections on observations about changing innovation management practices in companies (Chesbrough, 2003a, 2006a). Literature about open innovation has grown rapidly, and there is a growing need to relate or integrate it into existing innovation management research.
Other than the aforementioned Vanhaverbeke and Cloodt (2014), I don’t think anyone has attempted to link OI to the “traditions,” but clearly in both articles (and other recent articles) there have been efforts to link and contrast to specific areas of management research.


To me, the flurry of recent work demonstrates two things about open innovation. First, OI remains an active and vibrant area of research. Second, it is one that is far more mature and established than it was when we completed our first academic book in 2006, as reflected by trends such as measurement and increasing linkages to established theory in management and economics.

I'm hoping this posting will help new (and existing) OI researchers come up with ideas for future research opportunities. However, it’s just a blog posting: please see the original articles for more specifics.


Chesbrough, Henry (2006). “Open Innovation: A New Paradigm for Understanding Industrial Innovation,” in Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke, and Joel West (Eds.), Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1-12.

Chesbrough, Henry and Marcel Bogers (2014). “Explicating Open Innovation: Clarifying an Emerging Paradigm for Understanding Innovation.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 3-28.

Chesbrough, Henry and Alberto Di Minin (2014). “Open Social Innovation.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 169-188.

Colombo, Massimo G., Evila Piva & Cristina Rossi-Lamastra (2014). “Open innovation and within-industry diversification in small and medium enterprises: The case of open source software firms,” Research Policy 43 (5): 891-902. DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2013.08.015

Dahlander, Linus, and Gann, David M. (2010). “How open is innovation?” Research Policy 39 (6): 699-709. DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2010.01.013

Dahlander, Linus & Henning Piezunka (2014). “Open to suggestions: How organizations elicit suggestions through proactive and reactive attention,” Research Policy 43 (5): 812-827. DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2013.06.006

Du, Jingshu, Bart Leten & Wim Vanhaverbeke (2014). “Does Open Innovation Improve the Performance of R&D Projects?” Research Policy 43 (5): 828-840, DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2013.12.008

Felin, Teppo & Todd R. Zenger (2014). “Closed or open innovation? Problem solving and the governance choice,” Research Policy 43 (5): 914-925, DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2013.09.006

Gambardella, Alfonso & Claudio Panico (2014). “On the Management of Open Innovation,” Research Policy 43 (5): 903-913, DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2013.12.002

Henkel, Joachim, Simone Schöberl & Oliver Alexy (2014). “The emergence of openness: How firms learn selective revealing in open innovation,” Research Policy 43 (5): 879-890. DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2013.08.014

Laursen, Keld & Ammon J. Salter. (2014). “The Paradox of Openness: Appropriability, External Search and Innovation Collaboration,” Research Policy 43 (5): 867-878. DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2013.10.004

Mortara, Letizia and Tim Minshall (2014). “Patterns of Implementation of OI in MNCs.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 242-255.

Piller, Frank and Joel West (2014). “Firms, Users, and Innovation: An Interactive Model of Coupled
 Open Innovation.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 29-49.

Vanhaverbeke, Wim, Henry Chesbrough and Joel West (2014). “Surfing the New Wave of Open Innovation Research.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 281-294.

Vanhaverbeke, Wim and Myriam Cloodt (2014). “Theories of the Firm and Open Innovation.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 256-278.

Vanhaverbeke, Wim, Jingshu Du, Bart Leten, and Ferrie Aalders (2014). “Exploring Open Innovation at the Level of R&D Projects.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 115-131.

West, Joel (2006). “Does appropriability enable or retard open innovation,” In: Chesbrough, Henry, Wim Vanhaverbeke, and Joel West, eds. Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 109-133.

West, Joel and Marcel Bogers (2014). “Leveraging External Sources of Innovation: A Review of Research on Open Innovation,” Journal of Product Innovation Management 31 (4): 814-831. DOI: 10.1111/jpim.12125

West, Joel, Ammon Salter, Wim Vanhaverbeke, Henry Chesbrough (2014). “Open innovation: The next decade,” Research Policy 43 (5): 805-811. DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2014.03.001

West, Joel, Vanhaverbeke, Wim and Chesbrough, Henry (2006), “Open Innovation: A Research Agenda,” in Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke, and Joel West (Eds.), Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 285-307.

October 24, 2014

Tools for New Frontiers

Oxford reports that New Frontiers in Open Innovation “is available for pre-orders and will ship on 16 November 2014.” It’s also available for pre-order from Amazon and Amazon UK.

I've put together a few web pages with information about the book. This links to the pre-print chapters at (maintained by co-editor Wim Vanhaverbeke), and includes the biographies of the contributors. I also hope to have a chance soon to post the full references from the book, to go with the references from the 2006 book.

Google Scholar does a terrible job of generating citations for book chapters, so the table of contents page lists the chapters in citation format, and are also listed below:
  • Asakawa, Kazuhiro, Jaeyong Song, and Sang-Ji Kim (2014). “Open Innovation in Multinational Corporations: New Insights from 
the Global R&D Research Stream.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 157-168.
  • Brunswicker, Sabine and Vareska van de Vrande (2014). “Exploring Open Innovation in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 135-156.
  • Chesbrough, Henry and Marcel Bogers (2014). “Explicating Open Innovation: Clarifying an Emerging Paradigm for Understanding Innovation.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 3-28.
  • Chesbrough, Henry and Alberto Di Minin (2014). “Open Social Innovation.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 169-188.
  • Chesbrough, Henry and Roya Ghafele (2014). “Open Innovation and Intellectual Property: A Two-Sided Market Perspective.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 191-207.
  • Chesbrough, Henry and Chris Winter (2014). “ Managing Inside-Out Open Innovation: The Case of Complex
 Ventures.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 208-222.
  • Christensen, Jens Frøslev (2014). “Open Innovation and Industrial Dynamics—Towards a Framework
 of Business Convergence.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 94-114.
Mortara, Letizia and Tim Minshall (2014). “Patterns of Implementation of OI in MNCs.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 242-255.
  • Piller, Frank and Joel West (2014). “Firms, Users, and Innovation: An Interactive Model of Coupled
 Open Innovation.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 29-49.
  • Roijakkers, Nadine, Andy Zynga, and Caroline Bishop (2014). “ Getting Help From Innomediaries: What Can Innovators Do To
 Increase Value in External Knowledge Searches?” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 241-257.
  • Vanhaverbeke, Wim and Henry Chesbrough (2014). “A Classification of Open Innovation and Open Business Models.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 50-68.
  • Vanhaverbeke, Wim, Henry Chesbrough and Joel West (2014). “Surfing the New Wave of Open Innovation Research.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 281-294.
  • Vanhaverbeke, Wim and Myriam Cloodt (2014). “Theories of the Firm and Open Innovation.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 256-278.
  • Vanhaverbeke, Wim, Jingshu Du, Bart Leten, and Ferrie Aalders, (2014). “Exploring Open Innovation at the Level of R&D Projects.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 115-131.
  • West, Joel (2014). “Challenges of Funding Open Innovation Platforms: Lessons From Symbian Ltd.” In Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West (Eds.), New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 71-93.

October 22, 2014

Georg and Karim offer more time

Nov. 15 is the new deadline for the Information Systems Research special issue on “Collaboration and Value Creation in Online Communities”. The deadline has been extended from the original Nov. 1 date, according to an email I received this morning from Georg von Krogh (who is editing the special issue with Samer Faraj, Karim Lakhani and Eric Monteiro).

I blogged on the original CFP in February. I don’t personally have anything ready for the call, but look forward to see the articles when it the special issue is published in 2016.

October 10, 2014

(In)famous OI scholar moving on to next career?

Ulrich Licthenthaler is leaving the University of Mannheim in 5 1/2 months. As reported by earlier today:
According to a terse release from the university (translated from German):

Prof. Dr. Lichtenthaler informed the Rector of the University of Mannheim that he wants to leave the University of Mannheim on March 31, 2015. The state of Baden – Württemberg has agreed with his wishes.
That’s not an excerpt from the press release — it’s the entire press release.

Due to his problems with self-plagiarism and questionable statistical results, Licthenthaler has 16 retracted papers plus three that were withdrawn after acceptance but prior to online publication. Six (plus three) of these papers were co-authored by Holger Ernst, who remains a faculty member at WHU (where Lichtenthaler completed his PhD and since-cancelled habilitation).

It seems unlikely he will get another position in a German university. People who’ve met Lichtenthaler speculate that he will be leaving academia for another career.

Since journals don’t publish a notice of non-retraction, it’s not clear whether any of more than 20 non-retracted articles are still being considered for retraction. Perhaps his citations will go up if people conclude there’s no risk of further retractions.

Sadly (for more conventional scholars), his most cited article is his 2009 AMJ article that was retracted last December. Google Scholar says 74 articles and working papers that cite the retracted AMJ article been published since it was retracted.

August 18, 2014

Decisions for the 1st WOIC

After several meetings by the co-chairs and hundreds of reviews, the acceptance decisions have been made for the World Open Innovation Conference 2014. Authors have been notified and people can start making their plane and hotel reservations.

December's Program
The program chairs — Chesbrough, Piller, Tucci and West — were overwhelmed with the interest in our inaugural conference. We received 115 submissions, and will probably end up (after attrition) with about 55-60 plenary, parallel and interactive papers. We were limited both by the size of the venue and a desire to keep attendance around 100 people.

Being the first US-based open innovation research conference, we were unable to predict the mix of papers. There will be crowdsourcing papers, but not as many as at OUI 2014. Not surprisingly, the Chesbrough conference will have more patents than the von Hippel one, but not dramatically so. If anything, the difference seem most pronounced in the two sessions worth of business model papers. (As Marcel and I noted in our June 2014 JPIM, business models are an important part of the concept of open innovation, but relatively under-researched).

The program will include a new interactive paper format, combining the plenary intro pitch of OUI with the posters+drinks approach that worked so well at our 2012 London conference and this year’s OCIS social at AOM. I even had one author volunteer to give up a parallel paper presentation slot to do an interactive paper (which we nixed because the process would be a nightmare to administer).

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
When we did the London conference, we expected to get more authors from Europe than the U.S. In planning for WOIC, we worried that not enough of them would come to a resort 90 minutes from San Francisco’s international airport. We needn't have worried.

Of the 123 unique authors represented in the accepted papers, this is how they broke down:
  • 91 Europe: 23 Germany, 12 Spain, 11 UK, 8 Sweden, 7 Italy, 6 France & Switzerland, 5 Belgium
  • 26 North America: 25 US
  • 6 Asia
In other words, there will be nearly as many Germans (population 80 million) presenting in the US as there are Americans (population 315 million).

So perhaps there will be less German spoken at the Chesbrough-Fest (a medieval English name) than the VonHippel-Fest (honoring the son of a German-born physicist). But clearly German will be the 2nd most popular language at coffee breaks.

Given the travel costs, I expected more chaired professors, but that didn’t happen. Instead, about half of the names are familiar OI researchers (including 6 of the 19 accepted authors from the June 2014 special issue of Research Policy and 3/4 of the guest editors). Some of the other names are their students and other co-authors, but there are definitely names that I haven’t seen at an open innovation conference before (not to imply that I’ve been to every meaningful OI conference).

Tips for Future Authors
We made our decisions off of abstracts, which sped the review process but at times made it difficult to judge the substance of the paper. (Some authors did a better job than others of squeezing their key points into a 3,000 word abstract). Some conferences accept based on "I promise to write this paper", but — with so many strong submissions — many such abstracts didn’t survive in competition with completed research.

In doing my 58 reviews, I wrote some notes about how (IMHO) people could have presented the same research more effectively within the abstract format:
  • No need to include an abstract within your abstract.
  • The lit review needs to be drastically shortened — as in a real paper (or a PPT deck) it should be no more than 25% of the body of the paper.
  • Make sure your abstract communicates your contribution, not tells us what you hope your contribution will be someday. (If you don’t know yet, take your best guess — it will be better than ours).
  • Use as many words as you need to prove your point. What is your evidence? What are your methods? Measures?
  • Make the link to the conference theme explicit, as many papers were rejected for failing to do notice that this is a conference about “open innovation” (as defined by the CFP). That said, the paper will be accepted based on its potential contribution, not on its fit to the conference.
  • Don’t claim “there’s no theory in open innovation” and promise to be the first one to solve this problem. (NB: unless you’ve read every single article, it’s probably dangerous to claim to be the first to do anything in any research stream that’s 10+ years old).
Faced with an unexpected surge of demand, we instituted a “Rule of One” comparable to OUI or DRUID: one attendee, one paper. As with both conferences, some senior authors were listed on multiple papers with their students but only present one paper. In the end, the Rule of One only affected one person (me) who had an under-funded lead author who can’t fly from Europe in December to present his paper (forcing me to drop it or another paper where I’m lead author).

The Future
We expect to have a great two days (December 4-5) in Napa. The size seems just right — what OUI used to be, but slightly bigger than our wonderful 2012 London conference.

I hope that the Silverado Resort will have the same effect as my former hangout in Hawaii (HICSS): people will be happy to be there, and thus more relaxed (and hopefully creative and constructive) in their interactions. I suspect we will have more spouses than usual, allowing allowing people to put faces to names they have heard about for years.

In addition to having a nice venue, we also have the Napa Valley. After the conference ends, there will be an (optional) wine tour and other outings available.

For people whose papers weren’t done this year, there’s always next year: like a fine wine, good research should not be served before its time. We are hoping that by having a regular conference (December) and submission deadline (July 1), people will be able to plan to have something available for this annual event.

August 6, 2014

Networks, Communities, Ecosystems and Platforms

I’m now home after 3 conferences and 2 weeks on the East Coast. During the trip, much of my time — and all of my speaking roles — was spent talking about networks, communities, ecosystems and platforms.

Maybe I’m getting crotchety in my old age, but it seems like there’s some sloppiness in the use of these terms by innovation scholars. Since this is my main area of research — both for the past decade and probably another decade to come — I’d like to summarize some of my thoughts on these constructs, with pointers to the literature.

Two-Sided Markets are not Platforms

Van Alstyne and West
I started my trip at the Marshall Van Alstyne and Geoff Parker conference at Boston University, which they dub the Platform Strategy Research Symposium. It was somewhat of a misnomer, as most of the economists who visited the conference (although not the hosts) took “platform” as a synonym for “two-sided market.”

For Silicon Valley and most researchers, the “platform” definition is the sort of ICT platform identified by Bresnahan & Greenstein (1999) and studied by Gawer & Cusumano in their 2002 book. All of these are two-sided markets: Microsoft convinces gamers and game writers to join the platforms. But not all two-sided markets are platforms: cf. CraigsList or

My own paper attempted to map the platform concept onto my current employer’s interests: as Kevin Boudreau kindly told me last weekend, if you send a platform guy to a biotech institute then interesting things will happen. He tweeted the (very rough) conference paper to his followers, but I hope to have a much better version at a journal Real Soon Now.

Perhaps the most insight I got during the two weeks — certainly on platforms — came from the comments of Carliss Baldwin. The first was during QA on my paper at BU, the second was as the formal discussant for a AOM 2014 session on platforms featuring research Gawer, Liz Altman and others. If you ever want to learn what platforms are really about, be in the room when Baldwin is speaking — she cuts to the heart of the matter with an insight and clarity that are almost never found in academic journals..

Open Innovation Communities

At AOM, I had two key opportunities to discuss communities. One was in presenting my own (conditionally accepted) study of consumer 3D printing, written with George Kuk. The 3D printing world looks like the open source hardware communities of Raasch et al (2009), which in turn look a lot (but not exactly) like open source software communities.
Von Krogh and Lakhani

The other was kicking off a great communities panel at AOM with papers by Georg von Krogh, Karim Lakhani, Christina Raasch and Sonali Shah (irreverent discussion by Chris Tucci). In a session hosted by Jonathan Sims, we focused on how firms work with communities, i.e. the open innovation application of communities.

For this, I recommend Lakhani’s conceptual work. Lakhani is mainly known nowadays for his empirical work on crowd sourcing and other communities and platforms — frequently co-authored with Boudreau. But (IMHO) it is two lesser known conceptual papers by Lakhani that best cover firms and communities.

The first of Karim’s conceptual papers is West & Lakhani (2008). It was published in the Dahlander et al (2008) special issue of Industry and Innovation, which in turn was based on a 2007 EURAM conference track on firms and online communities. The Dahlander et al intro article is currently listed as the “most read” article published by the journal, while W&L is listed sixth on its “most cited” list. (According to a 2009 study, this paper is one of two by Lakhani that makes him the crucial boundary spanner between OI and UI in the first decade of the 21st century).

The other paper is newer and somewhat less known: an under-appreciated O’Mahony and Lakhani (2011) chapter in Research on the Sociology of Organizations. Today, this is the best published discussion I’ve seen on firms and communities, although in the future I hope to add additional work alongside this.

Networks, Communities, Ecosystems and Platforms

Perhaps the highlight — certainly the greatest honor — of the two weeks came as a discussant for an AOM panel on innovation ecosystems by Luigi Marengo (frequent co-author of Giovanni Dosi), Ray Miles, Chuck Snow (of Miles-Snow fame) and David Teece. These people didn’t know who I was, so I was honored by that the organizer (Sohyeong Kim of UC Berkeley) was willing to consider me as a discussant.

Since I wasn’t going to tell these senior scholars how to improve their work, instead I tried to link the papers together and offer the more junior scholars (i.e. all of us) some ideas of how to extend this work.

To the former point, I quoted from my recent brief (pp. 72-74) contrast of networks, communities, ecosystems and platforms from West (2014), i.e. Chapter 4 of New Frontiers in Open Innovation. Here’s that slide (with an error on the self-citation):

For the latter, the suggested extensions to their respective work is included in the slide deck, which I have posted to SlideShare.


Networks, communities, ecosystems and platforms are increasingly important to technology-based firms, in understanding inter-organizatonal collaboration, in explaining differences in firm outcomes and of course for the study of open innovation.

The cumulative process of open science requires that we use terms consistently to mean the same constructs with the same definitions. Physicists agree on a common definition of gravitational, magnetic and bosonic fields or the whole field (so to speak) would come apart.

So while any concept (e.g. network, platform) can be refined, extended or limited, the terminology should be used consistently. A platform is not the same as a two-sided market or an ecosystem, even though it may have similar attributes to both.

Given my interest (and expertise) here, I’ll probably blog disproportionately on this going forward. C’est la vie.


Bresnahan, Timothy F., and Shane Greenstein. "Technological competition and the structure of the computer industry." Journal of Industrial Economics 47, 1 (1999): 1-40.

Dahlander, Linus, Lars Frederiksen, and Francesco Rullani. "Online communities and open innovation." Industry and Innovation 15, 2 (2008): 115-123.

Gawer, Annabelle, and Michael A. Cusumano. Platform Leadership. Harvard Business School Press, Boston (2002).

O'Mahony, Siobhan, and Karim R. Lakhani. "Organizations in the shadow of communities." Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 33 (2011): 3-36.

Raasch, Christina, Cornelius Herstatt, and Kerstin Balka. "On the open design of tangible goods." R&D Management 39, 4 (2009): 382-393.

West, Joel, “Challenges of Funding Open Innovation Platforms: Lessons from Symbian Ltd.,” Chapter 4 in Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West, eds., New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014, pp. 71-93.

West, Joel, and Karim R. Lakhani. "Getting clear about communities in open innovation." Industry and Innovation 15, 2 (2008): 223-231.

August 4, 2014

Crowdsourcing and User Innovation Conference 2014

The 2014 "Open and User Innovation Conference" is over and Academy is about to begin. Before I get two immersed in AOM, let me offer a few belated insights about #OUI2014 and why it remains relevant — and (I argue) central — for OI and UI scholars.

By many measures, today OUI is the world’s best innovation conference. It offers some lessons about the current state of user innovation research, its overlap with open innovation research and also for how future open innovation conferences (such as WOIC 2014) should be run.
Karim Lakhani summarizing OUI 2014 submission topics on Day One of the conference.
The format, participants and topics have made the OUI conference the most relevant in the world for the study of innovation outside the firm. That’s why I’ve attended 7 conferences in a row — out of 12 total since the beginning. Academy is optional, UOI is mandatory.

First, the size (200 participants) and length (2.5 days) is ideal for meeting and getting to know innovation scholars. Yes, there are a thousand or so innovation scholars at AOM, but try finding them among the 10,000 people here. I know if someone is at UOI, I will have time to talk to them and hear their work.

This year was the first with a new format — a few plenaries by leaders of the tribe, followed by two parallel tracks for the rest of the day. I think the format worked well because there were few (but some) conflicts between sessions while still providing a venue for 122 papers.

The one format change I’d make is with posters. When posters work well, they can make a difference in the career of a junior scholar, and also more senior scholars developing a new research interest.

We had great luck with posters at the 2012 London conference. On Saturday, the OCIS division of the Academy had a great poster session with properly aligned incentives: if you want a drink, you had to talk to a doctoral student presenting his/her poster. I am hoping that posters will be a highlight of the WOIC 2014 if we can figure out how to fit them into the format.

Right now, at OUI the “posters” are just a 2 minute oral ad for work that is otherwise not presented at OUI. It tells you what someone is doing but doesn’t give a chance to discuss it with them. In some ways, these seems like the least democratic aspect of a relatively democraticconference. I’d try to see if there’s some way for people to present their posters (e.g. at lunch or over drinks): if the experiment doesn't work, it can be dropped.

Venue and Business Model
At my first OUI (then UOI, before that UI) conference in 2008, I was surprised to hear German conversations along the banks of the Charles River as we took a break from the MIT sessions. Even today, German is the main language for 40-60% of the attendees — less in the US (which tend to draw more Americans) and (natürlich) more in Europe.

The venues have reflected this German-focused aspect of the conference and UI research (and now OI research) more broadly. Of the first 10 conferences, four were at MIT or Harvard, three were in Germany (Munich, Munich, Hamburg), two in Austria (at WU Wien) and one in Copenhagen.

Since 2008, the conference has formally alternated between Harvard Business School and Europe. While registration is now $200, I estimate that it costs $300-500 per person to run the conference, even with donated meeting space. The money mostly goes to food, but also can go (as in Brighton and Vienna) to renting outside venues, local transportation or pay for staff.

It is no exaggeration to say that OUI is kept alive through the wealth of Harvard Business School and its generous subsidies of the conference in even numbered years. European organizers (such as Lisbon in 2015) have to find a grant or sponsor one time every 10 years or so, while the HBS endowment pays out $20k? $40k? (I don’t have the numbers) every two years to help catalyze a discussion of the work of von Hippel, Baldwin, Lakhani and others.

Innovation Communities and Crowds

OUI has historically been a good place for work on innovation communities. In my work on innovation communities with Jonathan Sims, we’ve seen that a large proportion of the work on external innovation communities is by user innovation scholars, people like Franke, Hienerth, Lettl and of course von Hippel. Open source was very prominent early on, although more recently it’s been reduced to one (relatively small) session.

This OUI was taken over by a particular form of community, the crowd. Four of the 16 sessions were about crowdsourcing (a fifth on crowdfunding), making this the major theme of the conference — by far the most popular in terms of submissions. (The next closest was firm interactions with users, with 2 sessions).

In his Monday plenary, Karim Lakhani bifurcated the crowdsourcing world into contests (competitive) and communities (collaborative). I look forward to seeing Karim (or someone else) explain the nuances in more detail. I agree that a contest is not a community, but (like all such classifications) the distinction will be one of degree and perhaps multidimensional.

Users vs. Firms
As I’ve noted many times before — in this blog and in my published research — there is a lot of overlap between open innovation and user innovation. Perhaps 75% of the studies at OUI would fit at WOIC, if the author explained how they built upon and contributed to the OI literature. But often the two tribes don’t talk to each other.

As representatives of these respective tribes, Frank Piller and I have been trying to bridge these gaps. We have a chapter in the next OI book, and Frank used his Tuesday keynote to talk about the similarities and differences.

At dinner I talked to a veteran UI scholar and we compared our respective thoughts. We agreed there is an overlap of subject matter, and so the main difference is on outcomes: UI cares about user success and OI cares about firm success. This impacts what we study, what we measure and of course the normative implications that we draw. (It also correlates to the sort of people and motivations that do the research).

Studies of patent licensing are never going to be popular at OUI, while (I suspect) they will be common at WOIC. But open source, innovation communities, co-creation and — most of all, crowdsourcing — really belong at both. If crowdsourcing is about firms solving problems using the crowd, then at its core it’s an open innovation question — and so most of the 26 crowdsourcing papers and posters would feel right at home at WOIC.

As such, I hope that we will continue to see an overlap of the audiences and authors between these two streams, and that the tribe intermingle (and beget shared papers) to cements the ties between us.

Meanwhile, our venue size means that the first WOIC will be smaller than today’s OUI. Where we’ll be in 10 years is anybody’s guess, but I hope we can emulate the intimate and interactive format that OUI has maintained throughout its lifespan.

July 30, 2014

Open Innovation at the User Innovation Conference

On Tuesday, Frank Piller of RWTH Aachen presented an overview of open innovation. He presented to attendees at the 2014 Open and User Innovation Conference — the 12th annual meeting of the user innovation workshop — which met at Harvard Business School. A track chair here at OUI, Frank is one of two members of the user innovation “tribe” (the other being Karim Lakhani) who's worked most actively in open innovation.

He noted that the 2006 Chesbrough definition of open innovation (from our 2006 book) as
”the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively“
He presented statistics and analysis on the market for open innovation intermediaries from RWTH’s 2013 study. He also alluded to the Not Invented Here problem, the subject of a forthcoming paper with David Antons (which was presented earlier on Monday).

But perhaps the most important thing for the largely UI audience was talking about the linkages between OI and UI — both similarities and differences. He summarized Table 2.1 of our chapter in New Frontiers in Open Innovation.

Our contention is that UI and OI have two major differences, First, they study overlapping (but slightly different) phenomena — so many topics at OUI 2014 (e.g. “firms and users”) would apply to both, but some topics apply only to UI (user to user sharing) and some only to OI (markets for innovation).

Second, the focal actor for these studies are different. UI always has users (usually but not always individuals), while OI is about firms (or more recently, organizations).

In talking to a non-OI scholar at dinner Tuesday night, I became convinced the latter is the most fundamental difference between the von Hippel and Chesbrough camps: EVH cares passionately about user welfare, while for the past 11 years HWC has been promulgating a paradigm about helping firms improve their performance.

In many cases, the interests of these two actors aligned, but like any cooperation such alignment is not perfect nor permanent. In other cases, they have conflicting goals, as when UI scholars seek to make user free of oligopolistic producer control (e.g. over IP) or when OI scholar try to help firms maximize the rents they can extract for their IP.

Still, there’s a lot of overlap. I think OI can learn from UI about input from consumers and other individual contributors. In fact, the focus of Piller & West (2014) is about what we call an “interactive coupled” mode of open innovation, with a focus on co-creation that takes place outside any particular firm through collaboration between firms and individuals.

At the same time, OI could potentially inform UI scholars in how firms use these external innovations, with its focus on the success of firms and (presumably) what happens inside the firm. In our JPIM article (published this month), Marcel and I showed how most OI research is about the use of external innovation. However, most such research is on finding (or acquiring) such innovations, not what happens inside the firm to the innovations once they’re acquired.

So the relations between the UI and OI camp are far better than between the US and Russia (either today or a decade ago). Perhaps a better analogy is the US and Europe, or Britain and France: we have a lot in common (particularly for the phenomenon) but our interests are not always perfectly aligned.


Frank Piller and Joel West, “Firms, Users, and Innovation: An Interactive Model of Coupled Open Innovation,” in Henry Chesbrough, Wim Vanhaverbeke and Joel West, eds., New Frontiers in Open Innovation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014, pp 29-49.

Joel West and Marcel Bogers, “Leveraging External Sources of Innovation: A Review of Research on Open Innovation,” Journal of Product Innovation Management, 31, 4 (July 2014): 814-831. DOI: 10.1111/jpim.12125

July 26, 2014

Commentary: How much fraud is too much?

The case of Ulrich Lichtenthaler began slowly two years ago, with three papers retracted for “statistical irregularities.” Perhaps the stern reaction of Research Policy suggested there was something more serious than the official announcements implied, but many at that point still believed it was just an honest mistake.

At this point, with 19 retracted or withdrawn papers, it would be impossible to argue with a straight face that the errors were inadvertent or unintentional. Instead, we have a pattern of intentional and systematic fraud that is the most serious such case in innovation studies in the past 15 years.

When a company has repeated failures, its credibility (and viability) suffers accordingly. Companies that poison babies or have cars that kill people lose their customers rapidly, and often go out of business. Passengers are understandably skittish to fly an airline that’s lost two jumbos full of passengers in six months (even if the 2nd case was just pure bad luck). Many people forget that it took only a single plane crash to respectively drive out of business two of the most storied brands in US aviation, Pan Am (1988) and TWA (1996), even though neither airline bore the primary blame for the resulting crash.

So how many retractions would it take for people to stop citing Ulrich Lichtenthaler? Apparently more than 20, if submissions to our upcoming open innovation conference are any indication. Slightly less than 14% (1:7) of the submitted papers cite one or more Licthenthaler papers.

Three of these submissions even cite a retracted paper: two a JET-M paper retracted in June, and a third the AMJ paper retracted last December. One submission cites 7 Lichtenthaler papers, another cites 5; both cite more Lichtenthaler than Chesbrough, even though the latter has written more (and more highly cited) papers than Licthenthaler. (Google says Chesbrough has 11 OI studies that are more cited than Lichtenthaler’s most-cited OI paper).

As I've noted before, some of my friends say “I’ll never cite Lichtenthaler” while others say “As long as it’s not retracted, I’ll cite it if it makes a contribution”.

I think there’s enough evidence to deduce a pattern. We don’t need any more priors to calibrate our Bayesian probabilities. Fool me twice — let alone sixteen times — shame on me.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of any website, conference, journal, book or special issue.

July 17, 2014

User and Open Innovation Conferences 2014

This has been a busy week for me. Tuesday was the final day for submissions to December's 1st Annual World Open Innovation Conference, which meant a flurry of last minute correspondence, fighting with EasyChair, cat-herding and general administrivia. (This doesn't count several meetings at work and time spent trying to write an NSF grant application).

We were deluged with submissions, a testimony to the ongoing interest in open innovation. Maybe it was the reputations of the conference co-chairs: Henry Chesbrough, Frank Piller, Chris Tucci. Perhaps it was the opportunity to publish in the ICC special section. Or maybe it was Henry’s choice of the Napa venue. Whatever the reason, we have divy'd up our assignments and hope to notify authors of the decisions by (around) August 15.

The same day that dozens of authors were sending in their WOIC 2014 submissions, I received the final schedule for the 12 Annual Open and User Innovation (July 28-30) from its conference co-chairs (Carliss Baldwin, Karim Lakhani, Stefan Thomke, Eric von Hippel and Benjamin Mako Hill). The new format has 122 papers and posters, with 16 parallel sessions in two parallel tracks. The latter should provide the presenters a good audience for their work.

Ironically, I'll probably be doing my WOIC 2014 reviews while in a hotel room killing time between Marshall van Alstyne and Geoff Parker's Platform 2014 conference (at Boston University) and the OUI 2014 at HBS the following week.

June 15, 2014

Two years later, Lichtenthaler count stands at 16

Just after posting the 14th and 15th retractions of Ulrich Lichtenthaler — in Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice — I received emails from two faithful readers pointing to his 16th retraction, in the Journal of Engineering and Technology Management (JET-M).

As with one of the ETP articles, it was co-authored with Miriam Muethel, who overlapped at WHU with Dr. Lichtenthaler when they both completed their habilitation.

The article was published in the April-June 2012 issue of JET-M. The retraction notice states:
This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (

This article has been retracted by agreement between the first author (Ulrich Lichtenthaler), and the Editor-in-Chief. The retraction has been agreed based on discussions about the presentation of the empirical results following an investigation conducted by the Journal. The second author was not involved in the empirical analyses. The first author assumes full responsibility.
The editor in chief of JET-M is Jeremy Hall of Simon Fraser.

Lichtenthaler Retractions: Two Years Later

The first retraction of any article by Dr. Lichtenthaler began in June 2012 with an article retracted by Strategic Organization. At the end of 2012, I summarized the first calendar year of retractions of Licthenthaler articles, when the retraction count stood at 8 articles.

Of the subsequent 8 retractions, two came from LES studies and two came from papers that seemed to use the LES data but didn’t say so directly (as did the SMJ retraction).

The two Lichtenthaler & Muethel articles — one in ETP and one in JET-M — used the LES data, but sampled only the smaller companies. As the JET-M article said
To avoid overlaps with earlier empirical studies (e.g., Lichtenthaler et al., 2010), we selected companies that are ranked on ranks 201–500 of the largest firms in terms of revenues in each of the following three industries: automotive, chemicals, and electronics.
While 16 articles by Dr. Licthenthaler have been retracted, at least 35 have not — a considerable output. Six of the 35 articles are literature reviews. Seven of these articles are in journals that have already retracted at least one Lichtenthaler article — implying that these articles in their journal have been vetted and passed the test.

Of the 22 remaining articles, 17 were published in six journals that have published multiple Licthenthaler articles but not yet retracted any:
  • California Management Review (2)
  • IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management (2)
  • MIT Sloan Management Review (2)
  • R & D Management (5)
  • Research-Technology Management (2)
  • Technovation (4)
I don’t have any information about the process at any of these six journals. Perhaps the two managerial journals (CMR and Sloan) are different, in that they aren’t about statistical tests, the managerial novelty of each article was vetted prior to publication, and that overlap with academic articles is a common and accepted practice.

As for the four academic journals, I don’t know the status of their evaluation of the Lichtenthaler papers — or whether they are even doing an evaluation. From a strictly Bayesian standpoint, I think it unlikely that none of the 13 articles in these four journals demonstrate defects comparable to those of the 16 articles retracted thus far.

Update Sunday 10:30am: According to a reader who studied the methods in more than 20 of the Licthenthaler papers, none of the four of the Technovation papers had problems similar to those of the retracted papers.


The full list of Lichtenthaler (or Holger Ernst) retracted papers (not including the three withdrawn papers):
  1. Lichtenthaler, Ulrich & Holger Ernst (2009). “Technology licensing strategies: the interaction of process and content characteristics,” Strategic Organization, 7 (2): 183-221. doi:10.1177/1476127009102672 (Retracted by the authors and editor, June 2012)
  2. Lichtenthaler, Ulrich (2009). “The role of corporate technology strategy and patent portfolios in low-, medium- and high-technology firms,” Research Policy, 38 (3): 559-569. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2008.10.009 (Retracted by the editors, July 2012)
  3. Lichtenthaler, Ulrich (2010). “Determinants of proactive and reactive technology licensing: A contingency perspective,” Research Policy, 39 (1): 55-66. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2009.11.011 (Retracted by the editors, July 2012)
  4. Lichtenthaler, Ulrich & Holger Ernst (2012). “Integrated knowledge exploitation: The complementarity of product development and technology licensing,” Strategic Management Journal, 33 (5): 513-534. doi: 10.1002/smj.1951 (Retracted by the authors, August 2012)
  5. Lichtenthaler, Ulrich (2009). “Product business, foreign direct investment, and licensing: Examining their relationships in international technology exploitation,” Journal of World Business, 44 (4): 407-420. doi: 10.1016/j.jwb.2009.01.003 (Retracted by the editor and author, August 2012)
  6. Ernst, Holger, Ulrich Lichtenthaler & Carsten Vogt (2011). “The Impact of Accumulating and Reactivating Technological Experience on R & D Alliance Performance,” Journal of Management Studies, 48 (6): 1194-1216. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.2010.00994.x (Retracted by the authors, editors and publisher, August 2012)
  7. Lichtenthaler, Ulrich, Holger Ernst & Martin Hoegl (2010). “Not-Sold-Here: How Attitudes Influence External Knowledge Exploitation,” Organization Science, 21 (5): 1054-1071. 10.1287/orsc.1090.0499 (Retracted by the editors, November 2012)
  8. Lichtenthaler, Ulrich (2008). “Externally commercializing technology assets: An examination of different process stages,” Journal of Business Venturing, 23 (4): 445-464. doi: 10.1016/j.jbusvent.2007.06.002 (Retracted by the editor and author, November 2012)
  9. Holger Ernst, James G. Conley, Nils Omland (2012). “How to create commercial value from patents: The role of patent management,” Research Policy, published online 21 May 2012. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2012.04.012 (Retracted by the authors and editor prior to print publication, February 2013)
  10. Lichtenthaler, Ulrich, Eckhard Lichtenthaler & Johan Frishammar (2009). “Technology commercialization intelligence: Organizational antecedents and performance consequences,” Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 76 (3): 301-315. doi: 10.1016/j.techfore.2008.07.002 (Retracted at the request of the authors, March 2013)
  11. Lichtenthaler, Ulrich & Johan Frishammar (2011). “The Impact of Aligning Product Development and Technology Licensing: A Contingency Perspective,” Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28 (S1): 89-103. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00863.x (Retracted by the authors, editor and publishers, May 2013)
  12. Lichtenthaler, Ulrich (2012). “The Performance Implications of Dynamic Capabilities: The Case of Product Innovation,” Journal of Product Innovation Management, published online 12 June 2012. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5885.2012.00957.x (Retracted by the author, editor and publisher prior to print publication, May 2013; originally published online with Holger Ernst as co-author)
  13. Lichtenthaler, Ulrich (2010). “Outward knowledge transfer: the impact of project-based organization on performance,” Industrial & Corporate Change, 19 (6): 1705-1739, doi: 10.1093/icc/dtq041 (Retracted by the editors, publishers and author after an investigation by the editors, May 2013)
  14. Lichtenthaler, Ulrich (2009). "Absorptive Capacity, Environmental Turbulence, and the Complementarity of Organizational Learning Processes," Academy of Management Journal, 52 (4): 822-846, doi: 10.5465/AMJ.2009.43670902 (Retracted by the editor-in-chief, December 2013)
  15. Lichtenthaler, Ulrich, and Miriam Muethel (2012). "The impact of family involvement on dynamic innovation capabilities: Evidence from German manufacturing firms." Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 36, (6): 1235-1253, doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6520.2012.00548.x. (Retracted June 2014)
  16. Lichtenthaler, Ulrich (2012). "Technological Turbulence and the Impact of Exploration and Exploitation Within and Across Organizations on Product Development Performance," Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, published online 5 June 2012, doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6520.2012.00520.x. (Retracted by the author, executive editor and publisher, June 2014).
  17. Lichtenthaler, Ulrich, and Miriam Muethel (2012). "The role of deliberate and experiential learning in developing capabilities: Insights from technology licensing," Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 29 (2): 187–209, DOI: 10.1016/j.jengtecman.2011.10.001. (Retracted by the first author and the editor-in-chief, June 2014)