Open Innovation Communities

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By Lee Fleming and David M. Waguespack:

“We define an open innovation community as a group of unpaid volunteers who work informally, attempt to keep their processes of innovation public and available to any qualified contributor, and seek to distribute their work at no charge.”

The advantages and achievements of open innovation communities:

“They have dramatically changed our conceptions of how innovation can and should be managed and have prompted calls for new theories of innovation (von Hippel and von Krogh 2003). Open community development methods appear superior to proprietary efforts on some measures (Kogut and Metiu 2001, Mockus et al. 2002). Open source operating systems challenge the world’s most powerful software firms, and proponents of community innovation are extending the model into new contexts such as gene transfer technology (Broothaerts et al. 2005), medical innovation, crime solving, textbook and encyclopedia publishing, education, space exploration (Goetz 2003), and communities in developing countries, for which software customization in local languages remains cost prohibitive (Economist 2003). Open communities have spawned some of the most important technological breakthroughs of our era, including Web browsers, e-mail, and the Web itself. The very protocols that enable different Internet technologies to work together emerged from innovation within a voluntary, nonproprietary, and open innovation community.”


From the article: Brokerage, Boundary Spanning, and Leadership in Open Innovation Communities. By Lee Fleming (Harvard Business School), David M. Waguespack (University of Maryland)