The ability to create, retrieve and use knowledge and to be innovative is a strategic asset of immeasurable value. Until recently, most textbooks on business and product development taught that managers should keep their ideas to themselves and protect knowledge from getting into competitors' hands. Seeking, developing and protecting knowledge is a costly activity. Moreover, apart from being expensive, the process of turning acquired knowledge into useful and well-protected innovations often slows the speed of development. In this paper we examine alternative strategies to innovation, in which sharing and co-operation play a critical part. The paper addresses the involvement of users in opening up the innovation process, which in turn gives the participating actors an interesting alternative for product development. We identify and classify four archetypal strategies for opening up the innovation process according to type of user involvement and organizational level where co-operation with external sources of knowledge takes place.
Proceedings of the Edge Conference. Bridging the Gap: Entrepreneurship in Theory and Practice, 2005