2. Conceptual background
To innovate, firms must be capable to manage a variety of resources, including money,technological artefacts, human skills, marketing knowledge and social capital (Dodgson,Gann and Salter, 2008; p. 97). According to open approaches to innovation, these resourcesare not easily accessible to the firm (Pénin, 2008). They are distributed inside and outside itsown financial, technological, organisational and cognitive boundaries. In seeking to accessthese resources, combine them and develop new products and services, the innovativeorganisation must find ways to open up its R&D facilities and integrate external sources of innovation In addition, the OI paradigm suggests that innovation outcomes are likely to becommercialised thanks to a variety of proprietary and non proprietary strategies (Chesbroughand Appleyard, 2007) which enable the firm to profit from innovation either bystrengthening/weakening appropriation regimes or by shaping industry architectures (Pisanoand Teece, 2007). Although it is not directly related to the process of invention itself (Arthur,2007), the appropriation strategy adopted by the innovative firm remains determinative for itsability to profit from its efforts during the commercialisation phase.Basically, the combination of internal and external sources of innovation has beenconstrued by Chesbrough (2003) as a strategic shift from a closed innovation model relyingon internal R&D, vertical integration and control, to an open innovation model which, in fact,can take many different organisational forms and rely on many different strategies (e.g.collaboration, strategic alliances, licensing technology, industrial clusters, innovationnetworks, user integration…). The particular form and strategy adopted by the innovative firmmerely reflect its response regarding the specific demands for innovation it has to deal with.Despite important differences among them, these forms and strategies share a common viewon the virtues attached to the concepts of collaboration, interaction and openness. In anincreasingly interconnected and turbulent economy, innovation requires that the firm is able tointeract and collaborate with others (including users, suppliers, rivals and so on) to create,absorb, combine and integrate a variety of in-sourced and out-sourced knowledge(Chesbrough and Teece, 1996). The foregoing does not lessen the need for nurturing in-houseinnovative assets, but involves that the innovating firm is
to dialogue with externalpartners so as to combine (Kogut and Zander, 1992) and absorb (Cohen and Levinthal, 1990)a collection of internally and externally distributed, often fragmented, pieces of knowledge.How does the firm manage to grapple with these (highly) demanding activities?