From ego-systems to open innovation ecosystems: A process model of inter-firm openness

Muhammad Aftab Alam, David Rooney, Murray Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Existing innovation management literature significantly enhances our knowledge about “What” open innovation is and “Why” it is crucial for innovating superior products. However, very little is known about the process of “How” firms adopt openness. We engage in a qualitative exploratory study using a grounded theory method to understand the process by which firms open and migrate from ego-systems to open innovation ecosystems. This paper reports on our findings from 3 rounds of 54 interviews with managers in the Macquarie Business Park, Australia. The first two rounds (n = 22 + 22) describe the openness process, define its qualitatively different phases, and detect critical variables that trigger or inhibit phase transition. In the final round (n = 10), member checks verify our interpretive model, revealing that inter-firm openness occurs in four transitory phases—realization, socialization, strategic alignment, and two-way openness. Phase transition starts somewhat spontaneously for firms but gets more complex as they proceed from ego-system to an ecosystem, and the degree of openness increases in each subsequent phase. The study has significant theoretical and practical implications for product innovation management. Interdependence, social exchange, and trust play a significant role in creating open innovation ecosystems. Inter-firm openness follows four interlocking transitory phases—realization, socialization, strategic alignment, and two-way openness. Phase transitions start spontaneously but become complex as the degree of openness increases in subsequent phases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-201
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Product Innovation Management
Volume39
Issue number2
Early online date4 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Product Innovation Management published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Product Development & Management Association. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • ecosystem
  • inclusiveness
  • innovation
  • openness

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