Digital Theses Archive


Tesi etd-09282017-155800

Type of thesis
The Challenges of Implementing Open Innovation
Scientific disciplinary sector
Relatore Prof. DI MININ, ALBERTO
Presidente Prof. CINQUINI, LINO
Membro Prof.ssa MORTARA, LETIZIA
  • Challenges
  • Innovation Policy
  • Open Innovation
  • Phenomenon-Driven Research
Exam session start date
The interest for OI has been developed focusing on the benefits and advantages that organizations can achieve breaching their boundaries and diffusing their processes of innovation. Indeed, companies achieved positive outcomes from OI Strategies (OISs) implemented in a variety of industry, and right after the launch of the OI concept, researchers enthusiastically explored and reported these successes, making the OI become a hot topic of the innovation management literature (Mortara et al. 2010). The scholarship provided evidence of the OI effectiveness and developed the debate on how to harness OI to maximize the outcomes of open strategies. <br>However, the innovation itself is a risky and challenging activity that requires companies to make investments whose return is completely uncertain (Pisano 2015). Undoubtedly, when these investments do not concern the single organization, but involves a plurality of actors and loci as it happens in a diffused process of innovation as the OI one (Spithoven et al. 2013), the levels of uncertainty and risk are even higher. Scholars reported the complexity of the implementation of open strategies, describing OI as a multidimensional and context-related phenomenon (Huizingh 2011). However, despite the researcher dedicated a lot of attention to the modes of practicing OI and its outcomes, they generally neglected to explore at what costs these outcomes are achieved (Cassiman &amp; Valentini 2016) , leaving the challenges of implementing open and collaborative innovation strategies still an understudied topic in the literature of OI.<br><br>The scope of this dissertation is to counterbalance the debate on OI and shed lights on the aspects that have been underexplored in the first fifteen years of history of the concept: the downsides of openness. Recent research agendas emphasized the lack of research on the challenges involved in the implementation of open approaches to innovation (Chesbrough 2015b; Dahlander &amp; Gann 2010; Spithoven et al. 2013; Lenz et al. 2016). Therefore, within the context of the OI phenomenon, this research aims at providing an answer to the general question of which are the challenges that companies face in implementing OI. <br><br>In order to answer the general research question, both a theoretical and empirical perspectives have been adopted and developed on three different contextual levels of analysis: conceptualization, practice and policy. Per each of these levels, specific sub-research questions have been formulated and addressed through different methodologies in three stand-alone academic papers corresponding to the three main chapters of the dissertation. The following paragraphs present the structure of the dissertation, providing a brief overview of each paper, the research questions addressed and the methodologies applied.<br><br>Chapter I - Clarifying the Challenges of Open Innovation: a Systematic Literature Review and a Taxonomy.<br>The first research paper, Chapter I of this dissertation, adopts a theoretical perspective to explore the topic of the challenges of implementing OI at a conceptual level of the analysis. The literature on OI let emerge the complexities that firms encounter in breaching their organizational boundaries once they embrace OI. Nonetheless, studies mainly explored the shift from a closed to an open paradigm of innovation, concentrating on the successful outcome of the shift and the new strategy adopted. The challenges that the firms faced during the processes of paradigm shift and strategy implementation are generally left on the background of the studies, generating a lack of knowledge on the topic. In order to disentangle the underexplored aspect of the OI implementation challenges, this study develop a systematic literature review with the aim of addressing two research questions:<br>• What challenges of implementing OI already emerge from the literature?<br>• What should be done in order to shed light on the drawbacks of practicing OI?<br>The systematic literature review was conducted on 122 studies. The analysis adopted a concept-centric approach, focused on the challenges of implementing OI strategies on the level of analysis of the private R&amp;D and innovation processes. We considered two subunits of analysis: Large Enterprises (LEs) and Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). Building on Piatier’s (1984) classification of internal and external barriers to innovation, the challenges of implementing OI were systematized in a taxonomy including two categories: internal and external challenges, whether they arise within or outside organizational boundaries, and are therefore more or less subject to the organization’s influencing power. This study offers a threefold contribution. First, it identifies and systematizes the challenges of implementing OI emerging from extant literature. Second, it proposes a research agenda to address current gaps in the OI debate, shedding light on the neglected aspect of its downsides. Third, it provides valuable managerial implications for practitioners that embrace OI.<br><br>Chapter II - Implementing Open Innovation: a High Hurdle?<br>The second research paper, Chapter II of this dissertation, adopts both theoretical and empirical perspectives to explore the topic of the challenges of implementing OI at a practical level of analysis. The paper explores the boundary situations that are potentially beneficial for a company that undertook OI but that, during the implementation of an open strategy, reveal disadvantages and drawbacks causing additional and actual difficulties to the company. The study explores the motivations of challenges and the reasons that make managing the challenges crucial focusing on LEs and SMEs. The aim is to address two research questions:<br>• Which are the motivations for which the challenges of implementing OI arise?<br>• Which are the characteristics of the OI challenges in LEs and SMEs?<br>Building on the findings of the first paper of this dissertation, this second paper validates the OI challenges taxonomy through eleven explorative case studies on European large and small- and medium-sized enterprises that embraced OI. The analysis applies an original interpretation framework of the process of OIS implementation including three phases: negotiation, implementation, and exploitation of the results. The study results validate the taxonomy of internal and internal challenges of OI and provide a complete description of the characteristic of challenges, highlighting the differences in the reasons for arising and peculiarities presented in firms with different dimensions. The paper offers valuable implications for both scholars and practitioners of OI. It enhances the knowledge on a neglected aspect of the phenomenon of OI and provides the managers of both LEs and SMEs that undertake OI with a comprehensive awareness of the typologies of challenges that may hide behind the benefits of opening up the innovation process.<br><br>Chapter III - Money, Money, Money… Is EU Innovation Policy Addressing the Right Issues when Targeting SMEs?<br>The third research paper, Chapter III of this dissertation, adopts both theoretical and empirical perspectives to explore the topic of the challenges of implementing OI and shift the analysis on the policy level. The paper explores the phenomenon of the OI challenges in the context of the European (EU) public policies supporting small business innovation and R&amp;D. In the current scenario, policies supporting the small business sector tend to focus mainly on reducing fiscal and administrative burdens and the filling the ‘equity gap’ through the provision of financial support. Nonetheless, previous literature showed that, to obviate the problems related to their lack of resources, SMEs engage in open and collaborative innovation strategies (Hossain &amp; Kauranen 2016), facing specific challenges not limited financial ones. This paper aims at addressing the following research question:<br>• Which are the issues that a public policy targeting innovation and R&amp;D in the small business sector should address, going beyond the ‘equity gap’ problem?<br>This paper build on the findings of the previous two studies included in this dissertation, considering the relevance of external challenges of OI for SMEs. In order to answer the research question, it proposes an original methodology through which SMEs challenges in implementing OI can be operationalized and their presence can be signaled. The study tests this methodology on a selected sample of 209 ‘EU innovation champions’ operating in the digital sector, awarded public funding by the SME Instrument, the most recent tool introduced by the eight EU Framework Program on Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020. The paper provides both managerial and policy implications. To practitioners that embrace OI, this paper offers insights on how their companies’ characteristics might associate to the rising of the OI challenges. To policy-makers, this study offer evidences that even the ‘EU innovation champions’, awarded public funds from the SME Instrument, present challenges that should be considered and addressed in a public policy targeting small business innovation and research.<br><br>All the three stand-alone papers aim at providing an answer to the general question of which are the challenges that companies face in implementing OI. The answer to this question is offered in the final chapter of the dissertation, which draws the conclusion, highlights the contributions of the dissertation, and identifies the limitation of this study offering proposals for future research. <br>