An Open Innovation Lens on the Digital Transformation Frontiers

An Open Innovation Lens on the Digital Transformation Frontiers

Maryia Zaitsava (University of Cagliari, Italy), Elona Marku (University of Cagliari, Italy) and Manuel Castriotta (University of Cagliari, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1005-6.ch007


The aim of the present study is to explore Digital Transformation frontiers using the lens of Open Innovation. By implementing bibliographic coupling method, the authors bring together segmental publications from different research fields and provide a comprehensive overview of the combined Open Innovation and Digital Transformation field's intellectual structure, revealing the different groups of thoughts, influential authors, and pressing topics. The research findings illustrate, the research area has polycentric composition with absence of overlaps between articles. Five main research groups are identified: Co-evolution of Digital Technologies and Open Innovation; Digital Peer-communities; Digital Ecosystems; Knowledge Management in the Open and Digital Era; and Open Innovation, Digital Technologies, and Businesses Performance. The current research contributes both Open Innovation and Digital Transformation fields by cross-exploring each phenomenon and revealing how Digital Transformation shapes the nature of innovation as a collaborative activity as part of an independent research area.
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In today’s extremely dynamic environment characterized by the rapid technological progress, globalization, unlimited knowledge sharing, and collaborative innovation with the new active role of users, businesses have no alternative but to take into account this new realm in order to be sustainable and competitive in the long run. The fundamental transformation of business models and work practices toward open and collaborative mode brought by digital technologies is witnessed in all levels of economic activity (Eaton, 2015). Open Innovation (OI) of today goes far beyond licensing, spin-offs and traditional collaborative methods of OI coined by Chesbrough back in 2006 as innovation process that intentionally manages knowledge flows across organizational boundaries. It is recognized that modern mode of OI has become a new space for each level of the society to collaborate and co-innovate (Nieto et al., 2007; Cassiman et al., 2009; Cassiman et al., 2010; Lichtenthaler, 2011; Rayna et al., 2015; Cassiman, 2016). This transition has been thrust forward by a variety of factors, where among the most important are fast-developing ICT, digital technologies that made possible the valuable knowledge to be widely diffused and easily accessible (von Hippel, 2005; Barrett, 2012; Yoo, 2012; Fitzgerald et al., 2014; & Parviainen et al., 2017). Indeed, the coexistence of OI and digital transformation (DT) has fueled the emergence of the new perception of innovation in the digital era, which favors extensive networking and co-creative collaboration between a variety of stakeholders - from users (Baldwin et al., 2011; Afonso et al., 2012) to public sector, SMEs, industry incumbents (Curley et al., 2013; Skarzauskiene et al., 2016).

Most of prior OI reviews have offered qualitative attempts to assess and structure the current state of development of the field. More specifically, Gassmann (2006; 2010) revealed research streams and developed a situational approach and a comprehensive structure of OI management, taking into account various aspects form industry to firm level. Elmquist and colleagues (2009) deepened the research domain and identified new OI themes while rethinking the concept of OI, its strengths, and weaknesses, and proposing conceptual models. Lichtenthaler (2011) put his efforts on compiling existing view and future perspectives of OI, while West and Bogers (2014) changed the research focus moving towards business models, commercialization of OI. In contrast, a few reviews adopted a quantitative approach. In particular, Kovacs et al. (2015) represented both overviews of decade literature of OI domain and its research fronts; however, while focusing predominantly on the OI phenomenon, it neglected specific insights on DT dynamics making this “digital advent” gap more than evident. Van Oorschot et al. (2018) although provided a comprehensive picture of an innovation adoption field in their recent bibliometric review work, they investigated especially the adoption of open systems.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Transformation: A transformation of a business or an industry by the use of digital technologies to enable major business improvements, such as developing new business models, providing advanced customer experience, optimizing processes, creating and getting value in new ways, creating new digital revenue streams.

Digital Peer-communities: Self-organizing communities made of individuals, exist in digital space, and create a shared outcome, such as goods, services, knowledge.

Digital Ecosystems: Distributed and open socio-technical networks with various stakeholders and entities. Usually are built for tasks connected with competition and collaboration.

Open Innovation: Type of innovation when valuable ideas can come from inside or outside the company and can go to market from inside or outside the company as well.

Bibliographic Coupling: Bibliographic method that uses citation analysis to establish meaningful relationships between documents.

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