Innovation determines competitive advantage (Abdul-Hadi and Junbae, 2012; Dyer and Singh, 1998; Hidalgo and Albors, 2008). Teece (2007) claims that a sustainable competitive advantage cannot be achieved only by utilizing ‘difficult-to-imitate resources’, but also requires developing ‘difficult-to-replicate dynamic capabilities’. One of the key resources in business is knowledge (David and Foray, 1995; Machlup, 1962). David and Foray (1995) note that the ability to create an ‘efficient system of distribution and access to knowledge’ boosts innovative opportunities. Hidalgo and Albors (2008) argue that knowledge-based innovation requires the convergence of many different types of individual knowledge, i.e. collective intelligence. Therefore, there is a direct link between knowledge management and innovation management (Coombs and Hull, 1998; Hidalgo and Albors, 2008).
In a dynamic business environment, all relevant knowledge can rarely be found in-house. As Felin et al. (2017: 123–124) observe, “[…] the locus of knowledge and innovation increasingly is the network rather than the firm.” Consequently, firms need to think how to utilize knowledge that resides outside their boundaries to enhance their innovative capacity (Lakhani and Panetta, 2007). In this context, external constituents such as different types of crowds should be seen as an extension or amplification of organizational rationality (Boudreau and Lakhani, 2013; King and Lakhani, 2013). Firms which do not have sufficient expertise but resist opening up their innovation process will face more challenges with knowledge-intensive tasks. Still, firms which are willing to experiment with ‘hybrid organizational models’ need to address the issues of decentralized problem solving, self-selected participation and self-organization, which characterize distributed innovation systems (Lakhani and Panetta, 2007).
According to Hidalgo and Albors (2008), having cutting-edge technology is not an essential precondition for innovation. It depends more on the firm’s ability to apply its knowledge to improve its internal operations and external relationships. Because of a variety of business types and circumstances, there is no universal innovation management model. One of the newest models is open innovation (Chesbrough, 2003a), also known as collective intelligence (Kittur and Kraut, 2008; Leimeister et al., 2009; Surowiecki, 2004). Open innovation is based on the principle that firms need to open up their internal innovation process by utilizing externally developed technologies in order to extract more commercial value from innovation (Chesbrough, 2003b; 2003c). Chesbrough (2003a) notes that open innovation should be understood as a ‘continuum of openness’, ranging from high to low.
This brief introduction to open innovation (OI) is a recycled extract from my second Master’s thesis. One of the spin-off projects of my research is OI L@b, a platform which aims to utilize Northern collective intelligence to develop the concepts of innovative solutions and assist innovators in knowledge-intensive tasks. Since innovation determines competitive advantage (Abdul-Hadi and Junbae, 2012; Dyer and Singh, 1998; Hidalgo and Albors, 2008), OI L@b aims to enhance strategic thinking competences needed to develop truly innovative and competitive solutions. It also helps innovators streamline the process of innovation development and address expertise challenges. OI L@b has an ambitious goal: to become a Northern collective intelligence platform which will facilitate the development of the Northern OI ecosystem.
To achieve this goal, OI L@b aims to establish partnerships with academic institutions and startup communities in the Nordics and Baltics. Having such an extensive network of partners, OI L@b will be able to explore the potential of OI in the Northern context in hybrid mode. Since the global economy is increasingly innovation-driven, Northern businesses have to withstand fierce competition to secure their market position. There is no opt-out option: you either innovate or quit the game. OI L@b addresses this challenge by providing access to Northern know-how that could facilitate the development of game-changing solutions. As the name suggests, OI L@b is always open to new challenges to work on and innovation-driven partnerships. Challenge or back us up with your know-how.
Birute Birgelyte | #BRG
Infopreneur, BrandComms Consultant and BX Creative
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