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Firm‐specific factors and the openness degree: a survey of Italian firms

Valentina Lazzarotti (Department of Management Engineering, Carlo Cattaneo University – LIUC, Castellanza, Italy)
Raffaella Manzini (Department of Management Engineering, Carlo Cattaneo University – LIUC, Castellanza, Italy)
Luisa Pellegrini (Department of Electrical Systems and Automation, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 4 October 2011




Many companies claim they are adopting an open approach to innovation, but each of them with its own way. This paper aims to explore the different models for opening up the innovation process adopted in practice.


The paper employs an extended survey among Italian manufacturing companies; cluster analysis; and ANOVA.


The study distinguishes four different open innovation models with respect to two variables, representing the degree of openness: the number and type of partners with whom the company collaborates (partner variety) and the number and type of phases of the innovation process actually open to external collaborations (innovation phase variety). They are: open innovators, closed innovators, integrated collaborators and specialised collaborators. The paper describes each cluster in terms of firm‐specific variables that characterize and support open innovation choices; finally, it tries to draw some tentative explanation of the influence of openness on the innovative performance of companies.

Research limitations/implications

The number of respondents is still limited (i.e. about 100). Moreover, only the relationship between some firm‐specific factors and the degree of openness (defined specifically in terms of partner variety and phase variety) is studied: a wider investigation is recommended to include more contextual factors, i.e. external/environmental ones, or more variables that can help to define the openness degree.

Practical implications

The paper provides managerial implications because it suggests that open innovation is not an “on/off” choice, but it can be interpreted and adopted with different degrees, consistently with the company's specific context.


The paper introduces a new perspective that integrates both the number/typology of partners and the number/typology of phases, in order to understand if such a perspective can confirm the existence of different open innovation models.



Lazzarotti, V., Manzini, R. and Pellegrini, L. (2011), "Firm‐specific factors and the openness degree: a survey of Italian firms", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 412-434.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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