Open Innovation in the French Automotive Industry by Romaric Servajean-hilst, is an interesting study published at the European Academy of Management EURAM 2014 and that can be read here.
With an ethnographic approach, the author shows that “the trigger of absorptive capacity is made up of two sequences of activation of the same knowledge-related mechanisms linked by one people-related mechanism.”
Namely, two main departments are involved in the Open Innovation processes of the company. Firstly, the “Innovation Purchasing” department does a systematic scouting for new technology and innovations and selects the best candidates. The resulting knowledge is ‘adopted’ by the purchasing department staff before it is ‘contextualized’ in concrete scenarios and transferred to R&D in an ‘enrolment’ process, including “tech days” presentations.
Then, once an internal R&D leader is identified, he or she follows the same two stages process that leads eventually to a product or prototype project.
These two stages (purchasing, R&D) and their interface define the absorptive capacity of the company. The author shows the importance of the social relationships between the actors in the overall efficiency of the open innovation process.
My personal take away from the full article is that Open Innovation can be extremely powerfull to increase the creativity and the competitvity of a company provided that the approach is global and adopted by the main internal stakeholders.
Romaric Servajean-hilst is a PhD student at Ecole Polytechnique, France.