Open innovation is now a widely used concept in academia, business, and policy making. This article describes the state of open innovation at the intersection of research, practice, and policy. It discusses some key trends (e.g., digital transformation), challenges (e.g., uncertainty), and potential solutions (e.g., EU funding programs) in the context of open innovation and innovation policy. With this background, the authors introduce select papers published in this Special Section of California Management Review that were originally presented at the second annual World Open Innovation Conference, held in Santa Clara, California, in December of 2015.
Open innovation has emerged as an important concept in both academic research and industrial practice, and it is now also becoming increasingly important in the public policy domain. For example, Hilgers and Ihl highlighted the potential of “citizen sourcing” as a way to apply open innovation to the public sector.1 They collected several examples in relation to citizen ideation and innovation, collaborative administration, and collaborative democracy—such as the Inducement Prices by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Peer-to-Patent initiative, and AmericaSpeaks.org as a “21st Century Town Hall Meeting.” The notion of open government has also received more attention, as exemplified by Barack Obama’s earlier call for new forms of collaboration to increase the innovativeness of public service delivery.2 In the context of open innovation, there is increased awareness of the importance of considering nonprofit purposes, while public and nonprofit organizations need to be linked to other stakeholders to get a more complete picture of how innovation can be done more efficiently and effectively.3
Effective policy making built around open innovation must harness the value-added of openness in science, and yet also promote the investment needed to transform open initiatives into new technologies and new business models. This is the essence of the Three Opens (Open Innovation, Open Science, and Open to the World) that one of us has discussed at length.4 On this basis, a vision for Europe acknowledges, “the way that science works is fundamentally changing and an equally important transformation is taking place in how companies and societies innovate. The advent of digital technologies is making science and innovation more open, collaborative, and global.”5
The treatment of open access scientific journals within Europe illustrates the balancing on these forces. The European Commission now requires researchers to publish open access and refunds costs incurred in paying publishers for this service. Moreover, science ministers from all EU countries have agreed that all publicly funded research be published in open access journals. So the publishers get some time to adjust their business models while the entire EU will soon benefit from much more widespread dissemination of the research it funds.
Building on these developments toward more openness, the aim of this article is to better connect open innovation research, practices, and policies to inform scholars, managers, and policymakers about current trends and future directions. We do this by describing the state of open innovation research, as we know it from relevant academic work in that domain, and by providing an overview of some policy considerations and recommendations. At the same time, we use this opportunity to introduce the articles that were selected on the basis of the World Open Innovation Conference (WOIC) in 2015 that California Management Review (CMR)6 graciously agreed to publish in a special section in this issue.