NEW PAPER – The many shades of ‘openness’: an application of item response theory to open innovation research

How open are firms? Opening up to a collaborative strategy is not a black-and-white issue.  As open innovation has many shades, being “open” is not a binary decision. 

In this recently published research paper together with Cristina Marullo and Irene Martelli, in the R&D Management Journal, we apply Item response theory to explore how firms’ managers make decisions regarding the adoption of different Open Innovation practices based on their evaluation of “openness” benefits and concerns.

We focus on the relationship between firm level differences in terms of “openness” and the types of Open Innovation practices adopted by these firms, and show that significantly different levels of “open innovation maturity” are required to broaden the scope of external partnerships and to shift from non pecuniary OI modes (relation based approaches, such as R&D Collaborations and European projects) toward pecuniary (transaction based) practices, such as IP out licensing or external technology acquisition.

This paper is about the (first and only) application of item response theory to the concept of Open Innovation to address the challenges posed by Henry Chesbrough in his latest book (2019), titled Open Innovation results.

Contributing to a debate initiated by the fundamental 2006 paper by Laursen and Salter we hope that this reading will continue to get scholars and practitioners fascinated and interested in Henry Chesbrough’s Open Innovation intuition.

The paper is available online as open access at this link