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A Historiographical Perspective on Open Innovation: The Open Society and its Entrepreneurial Bias
Tiago Brandão

Última modificación: 2020-12-18


Open Innovation is one of those catchwords that capture the imaginaries of our societies in striving to point out desirable and transformative changes in our political economy. By adopting a historiographical perspective, we here intend to convey a comprehensive perspective over the traditions of thought behind the concept of Open Innovation. An intellectual and conceptual history (Koselleck 2002, Skinner 2002, Godin 1998, 2015) provides us with a methodology able to reveal the views evolving around the notion of ‘open innovation’. Open innovation is indeed one of the recent frameworks (Gaglio et al. 2019) guiding and revamping current STI – Science, Tecnology and Innovation policy(ies), which is being backed up by several milieus, from international fora to corporate stakeholders, passing through alternative or counterhegemonic approaches.

At the European policy level, ‘open innovation’ seems to incorporate a wide array of expectations; not only the economic benefits of better services and products but also social cohesion (and inclusiveness) in Europe. On the other hand, when closely analysed in its academic genesis, the concept of open innovation seems rather less revolutionary than our intuitive understanding. A concept such as open innovation in fact only recently arose, and despite its different usages, its genesis emerged in the business environment and within the scope of organizational studies of business models and firms.

In this presentation, an overview is going to be given of several authors who presented proposals for Open Innovation. The genealogical analysis includes presenting several accounts, from Peter F. Drucker, the ‘founding father’ of administration studies, to the Henry Chesbrough framework for a ‘new imperative for creating and profiting from technology’. The most recent contribution by Curley and Salmelin (2018) even coined the ‘open innovation 2.0’ as a proposed new paradigm and method (i.e., embodying the ambition of providing another framework), which aims at reaping the benefits of digital innovation for society and industry. Preliminary evaluation is that ‘open innovation’ per se is one of those concepts marked by increasing ambiguity.