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Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating And Profiting from Technology Paperback – September 30, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The great corporate research departments at companies like Bell Labs, IBM and Xerox were once the motor of American industry. But that may be changing, according to this probing academic study of corporate technological innovation. Chesbrough, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School, argues that the old "closed innovation" model-vertically integrated research-and-development departments that develop technology in-house for the sole use of their corporate parent-is becoming obsolete in an age of mobile scientific workers, ubiquitous high-tech startups and a growing extra-corporate research establishment at university labs. Modern technology powerhouses like Cisco and Microsoft do little of their own basic research, he reports; instead they have dropped the "do-it-all-yourself" approach and pioneered a new model of "open innovation," in which companies import ideas from without and let their own innovations enter the wider marketplace. Drawing on case studies of companies like Lucent and Intel, Chesbrough suggests that companies make themselves more permeable to the flow of knowledge through such strategies as hiring professors and grad students as summer consultants, sponsoring university research, investing in and partnering with high-tech startups and venture capitalists, and disseminating their own innovations through spin-off companies or even by publishing it in the public domain. Chesbrough's sophisticated but highly readable discussion of these complex issues will give managers much food for thought.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"...offers an original explanation of why the old 'big labs' model of corporate innovation turned out to be inadequate." -- Financial Times --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; First Trade Paper Edition edition (September 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422102831
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422102831
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Ramana Rao on April 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Having been "grist" in the Xerox mill that Chesbrough covers (he interviewed me in 1997), I can attest to the thoroughness of his research into why Xerox didn't capitalize on the inventions of PARC. Chesbrough goes way beyond the Word template journalist seem to have for articles about PARC. Rather than pointing at the usual suspects of senior managers with no clue about innovation or research types with no clue about business, Chesbrough looks to the broader historical and social context for explanations.
After examining changes in the knowledge landscape---e.g. mobility of high-skill high-knowledge people and rise of venture capital to grease exploration of high-risk high-reward ideas---Chesbrough arrives at the necessity of a shift from a closed model of innovation based on tight control to an open model based on enabling the free flow of ideas for its benefits and capturing what value can be viably captured. Besides Xerox, he looks at IBM, Intel, and Lucent in detail and many others including Microsoft, Cisco, and Merck to explore the open innovation model and how to transition.
The book reads well, the years and years of research and detailed case studies don't get in the way. Beyond direct application to large corporations, the model of open innovation has significant implications for academia, government research and policy, and innovation everywhere. Even having thought about the issues covered for years, I see the book having immediate impact on my own actions.
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87 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Paul A. Schumann Jr. on May 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very disappointed in this book. The title and the buzz about the book lead me to believe that this book was about the revolutionary idea of "open innovation". Open Source, the approach that developed Linux operating system and other software modules and applications, has demonstrated the power of a loose collaboration that operates in an open environment. This book is not about the "open innovation" that is a generalization of the unique approach that worked in Open Source. Instead this book is about running R&D organizations in a more open way - that is balancing internal R&D with the acquisition of the results of external R&D, and the commercialization of internal R&D internally and externally to the company.

I also think that the book could be misleading for at times the author intermixes the words innovation and technology. Yet, we know that there is a lot of capital to be created with innovations that are not based on technology but exploit the changes caused by technology.

And, as a thirty-year veteran of IBM, it was hard to read that the first time that IBM invented "open innovation" was with the advent of the Internet in the mid 1990s. In reality, there were many "open innovation" efforts within IBM as early as 1970 that produced significant revenue.

The author points to the failure of PARC as an R&D failure. I would argue just the opposite. PARC was extraordinarily successful as an R&D effort. Look at how many fundamental innovations relative to personal computers that got developed. It was operational and executive failure that resulting in Xerox's inability to commercialize on what they had. This is not the fault of a "closed innovation" model. The "closed innovation" model created what it was supposed to create.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Naomi Moneypenny on June 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As we have come to expect from Harvard's Professor Chesbrough, Open Innovation is a wealth of insight and knowledge in how organizations can transform themselves by blending the best of their internal know-how and external sources of perspectives. Beginning with an interesting historical vantage point, Chesbrough introduces us to innovation structures as they have evolved at the beginning of the twentieth century, through the establishment of central research & development facilities and beyond. It was historian Alfred Chandler who first researched the economies of scale that resulted from the internal research & development facilities. As it points out in the book, `these R&D facilities were so successful in extracting more efficiency out of increased understanding that they created natural monopolies in many leading industries, or economies of scope'. But many erosion factors have weathered these fortresses of knowledge, and now Chesbrough maintains that innovations, however clever, are worth nothing until a viable business model is found to exploit them.
The function of a business model, according to the author and colleague Richard Rosenbloom, is to: articulate the value proposition; identify a market segment; define the structure of the firm's value chain; estimate the cost structure and margin, describe the position of the firm within the value network and to formulate the competitive strategy of the offering. So invention is not enough. Organizations most follow the path to commercialization, but that route often means it must work collaboratively with many others. This approach has many ramifications on company structure and ways of working.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. Beise-Zee on November 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In general reading `open innovation' is inspirational and interesting. It seems to be good researched and it is easy to read without hurting my intellect. It basically presents the story of the failure of and subsequent changes in the research strategy of Xerox, IBM and AT&T and contrasts this with Intel's successful strategy of concentration on process and product innovation instead of research. Chesbrough neatly conveys the basic argument that large companies have to open their research departments and include partners outside the firm as sources of new technology. Research findings that do not fit into the firm's business model should be realised in new ventures. The firm stories, based mainly on Harvard Business School cases, certainly offer some insights for managers of large corporations.

As an academic however, I have some reservations. Though the book is better than other business books, it follows the same pattern: find a catchy expression (open innovation), declare a paradigm shift, present some case stories that are supposedly representative and take some short cuts towards generalizations. IBM and AT&T are hardly representative for the whole industry. This might be important since there are certainly examples of highly profitable companies that would rather fit into the `closed innovation' model that the author declares dead. Secondly, it is not totally clear that open innovation model is really a new paradigm. At the beginning of the last century (according to the author the origin of the closed innovation model) many European companies took advantage of innovations from universities and public research labs (organic chemistry, x-ray).
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