More Open Innovation Curtails Experimentation and Search

Written by Kevin Boudreau
This summer, I gave a plenary speech at Eric von Vippel‘s annual conference on open and user innovation. I’m sure Eric would agree, this group is generally suspicious of patents and favours open sharing of knowledge. (See Eric’s debate along with Scott SternGeorg Von Krogh and Anita McGahan on intellectual property rights here.) The conference is unequalled in studying leading edge practices in knowledge sharing across science, technology, arts and beyond (special thanks to co-organisers Stephen Flowers, Georgina Voss, Jose Christian, Karim Lakhani and a number of others).

With the orientation of the conference in mind, I gave a speech making the point that in fact all of our innovation systems are open. Yes, even the patent system! (Indeed, the word “patent” derives from Anglo-Norman “lettre patente,” meaning “open letter.” )

The key point of my speech to this group was that there are important lessons to be learned by carefully studying the differences in open disclosure policies across  innovation systems.

Much of the content on that speech can now be found in our new paper: How Disclosure Policies Impact Search in Open Innovation 

There are two key points to our paper:

The first point simply clarifies a basic distinction in the nature of disclosure policies. Society’s various innovation systems–academic science, the patent system, open source, etc.–can be distinguished in terms of whether disclosures take place only after final innovations are completed (e.g., final inventions, working technology platforms, completed research papers, biological organisms, etc.) or whether disclosures relate to intermediate solutions and advances (e.g., intermediate solutions, data, methodologies, etc.).

The second is that different open disclosure policies come with stark tradeoffs. Intermediate disclosures (ex: open source, open data, wiki’s, open access, etc.) have the advantage of efficiently steering development towards improving existing solutions, but produce less experimentation and wider “searching” for alternatives.

More closed final disclosure policies (ex: innovation contests, entrepreneurial system of industrial competition, traditional academic publishing) produce higher incentives, and greater independence of experimentation–albeit with less reuse and cumulative learning.

Karim is presenting the paper for us today at Stanford–go see him! http://hci.stanford.edu/connect/

2 thoughts on “More Open Innovation Curtails Experimentation and Search

  1. avatar JMI says:

    Really interesting Kevin, thanks ​!

    Given your interest, I think you’ll be very much interested in this list of emerging Open Innovation research: http://www.openinnovation.eu/07-05-2013/768/

    And in this new research too:

    - The Contours of Crowd Capability

    Powerful stuff, no?

  2. avatar jake says:

    Thank you. This is really great info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Drag the Tree to the circle on the side.Touch the Tree to move it to the circle on the side.


Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words:

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>