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Open innovation and firm performance: the role of organizational mechanisms

María J. Oltra (Department of Business Administration and Marketing, Universitat Jaume I, Castelló de la Plana, Spain)
M. Luisa Flor (Department of Business Administration and Marketing, Universitat Jaume I, Castelló de la Plana, Spain)
José A. Alfaro (Department of Business, Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 4 June 2018




The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between the use of open innovation (OI) practices and firm performance, and the role of organizational mechanisms (OMs) (formalization and decentralization) as moderator variables.


The authors build a theoretical framework to define a set of hypotheses that are then verified in an empirical study. These theoretical propositions are tested by using the data gathered from a survey addressed to 244 firms in Spanish low- and medium-technology industries.


With regard to inbound practices, the practices oriented to cooperate with partners in a R&D context have a positive influence. The results show that outbound practices, either by direct generation of revenues from licensing payments or, more indirectly, through the indirect marketing and technical benefits that can stem from revealing have a positive effect on firm performance. Coupled practices, which are related to participation in clusters and innovation networks, have the highest impact on firm performance. In the industrial context examined, decentralization exerts a positive effect which enhances the effect of outbound practices meanwhile formalization reduces their positive effect.

Practical implications

This study helps practitioners in low- and medium-technology firms to determine which OI practices are most beneficial to firm performance and how formalization and decentralization can influence the relationship between OI and firm performance.


This study helps determine the influence of OI practices in terms of inbound, outbound and coupled types through an analysis of low- and medium-technology firms. The OI literature is enriched by the types herein of the role of OMs, which includes an analysis of how formalization and decentralization moderate the influence of OI practices on firm performance.



This research was carried out with financial support from Spanish Ministry of Science and Technology through project ECO2011-29201. M. Luisa Flor would like to thank the Spanish Ministry of Education Culture and Sport for its financial support within the framework of its International Mobility Program for Senior Researchers “Salvador de Madariaga” (Reference PRX16-00476).


Oltra, M.J., Flor, M.L. and Alfaro, J.A. (2018), "Open innovation and firm performance: the role of organizational mechanisms", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 814-836.



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