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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