KGI Keck Graduate Institute

Claremont, CA, United States

KGI Keck Graduate Institute

Claremont, CA, United States
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West J.,KGI Keck Graduate Institute | Kuk G.,Nottingham Business School
Technological Forecasting and Social Change | Year: 2016

Selective openness allows a firm to sell a systemic innovation that combines both open and proprietary technologies. Such firm strategies are now common for open source software and other information goods. However, they pose conceptual and practical uncertainties for hardware-focused companies, particularly as research on open hardware has emphasized community rather than firm success. Here we study firm openness in 3D printing, with a case study of how MakerBot Industries leveraged external communities and selective openness become the consumer market leader. After reviewing the literature on systemic innovation and selective openness, we document the proprietary strategies of a dozen startup companies during the first two decades of the 3D printing industry. We contrast this to the open hardware, software and content strategy that MakerBot's founders used to enter and grow the consumer market from 2009 onward. We show how MakerBot shifted to a selectively open, systemic innovation strategy that complemented proprietary hardware and software with open user-generated content from its Thingiverse online community. From this, we suggest the inherent complementarity of selective openness strategies between open and proprietary components, and conclude with predictions as to when and how a startup or incumbent firm will combine open and proprietary elements. © 2015.


West J.,KGI Keck Graduate Institute
Journal of Product Innovation Management | Year: 2014

This paper reviews research on open innovation that considers how and why firms commercialize external sources of innovations. It examines both the "outside-in" and "coupled" modes of open innovation. From an analysis of prior research on how firms leverage external sources of innovation, it suggests a four-phase model in which a linear process - (1) obtaining, (2) integrating, and (3) commercializing external innovations - is combined with (4) interaction between the firm and its collaborators. This model is used to classify papers taken from the top 25 innovation journals, complemented by highly cited work beyond those journals. A review of 291 open innovation-related publications from these sources shows that the majority of these articles indeed address elements of this inbound open innovation process model. Specifically, it finds that researchers have front-loaded their examination of the leveraging process, with an emphasis on obtaining innovations from external sources. However, there is a relative dearth of research related to integrating and commercializing these innovations. Research on obtaining innovations includes searching, enabling, filtering, and acquiring - each category with its own specific set of mechanisms and conditions. Integrating innovations has been mostly studied from an absorptive capacity perspective, with less attention given to the impact of competencies and culture (including "not invented here"). Commercializing innovations puts the most emphasis on how external innovations create value rather than how firms capture value from those innovations. Finally, the interaction phase considers both feedback for the linear process and reciprocal innovation processes such as cocreation, network collaboration, and community innovation. This review and synthesis suggests several gaps in prior research. One is a tendency to ignore the importance of business models, despite their central role in distinguishing open innovation from earlier research on interorganizational collaboration in innovation. Another gap is a tendency in open innovation to use "innovation" in a way inconsistent with earlier definitions in innovation management. The paper concludes with recommendations for future research that include examining the end-to-end innovation commercialization process, and studying the moderators and limits of leveraging external sources of innovation. © 2013 Product Development & Management Association.

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