Managing open innovation in process industries

Abstract: The concept of open innovation has received increased attention among practitioners as well as in academia in recent years. It provides a conceptual platform for understanding how external sources of knowledge drive internal growth. In addition, it also addresses the internal configurations needed for managing a more externally oriented innovation process. However, many firms still experience major managerial challenges in trying to adopt the principles of open innovation. The perhaps most important challenge in realizing the potential benefits of open innovation lies in modifying existing innovation activities and processes to incorporate the principles of open innovation, rather than creating something completely new. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis is to study the problems and opportunities arising when firms attempt to integrate open innovation activities within their development processes. Empirically, the results are based on three exploratory case studies within the process industries. In total, this thesis is based on 73 interviews from 2 process firms and 9 equipment suppliers to the process industries. Data was gathered in several different countries, and collectively these firms represent perspectives from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands and The United Kingdom.Three papers are appended with the thesis. Paper I studies the overall challenges of integrating open innovation activities within an existing product development process. The key contribution is the enactment of a practitioner-oriented work model, named the open Stage-Gate model, which exploits the advantages of "openness" while simultaneously capturing the benefits deriving from the systematic and structured approach implied by the Stage-Gate process. Paper II studies a concrete application of open innovation by focusing on the development and installation of new or upgraded process equipment in process plants where collaborative efforts by a process firm and various suppliers of process equipment often are required. The analysis focuses on problems and opportunities in different stages of the equipments lifecycle and finds that the content and the intensity of the collaboration should be tailored to the different stages of the equipment's lifecycle. As such, the conclusions highlight the fact that being totally open in development activities is not always the most suitable option. Instead, different degrees of "openness" may be suitable at different stages. Paper III studies collaboration in the later operational stages of a process equipments lifecycle, from an equipment supplier perspective. The results presented in this paper underscore the importance of collaboration in the operational stages as these stages are critical to facilitate technology transfer and production performance.