The paradox of openness and protection

Last week the strategy blog was about Learning from openness in open innovation. Included was a small survey of three questions. At the moment the number of respondents are just too low to be statistically significant. The interim results (the survey is still open) are that all respondents believe that open innovation is useful for idea generation and idea selection, and that there can be a double learning effect. However there can be many potential problems, which need to be taken seriously especially because innovations are about new realities. Most of the potential problems are described in the articles that were presented last week and also in the blog Collaboration for sustainablity.

The results of the survey make clear that there are opportunities but at the same time there are also many risks in open innovation. People and firms struggle between openness and protection. Like in many strategy issues there is probably no real solution for such a dilemma or paradox.

In addition to the presented literature it is useful to add the article The paradox of openness: Appropriability, external search and collaboration. This article explores how the choices of firms to be open to different external actors are related to the choices they make about their appropriability strategy. This appropriability strategy is the approach of firms to protect their knowledge against being copied and to capture the returns from their innovative activities.

Norbert Bol

Image courtesy of Digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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