Exploring the Culture of Open Innovation

Cover of Exploring the Culture of Open Innovation

Towards an Altruistic Model of Economy



Table of contents

(11 chapters)

In the knowledge economy, greater togetherness is the prerequisite for innovating and having more: selflessness extends scope while selfishness increases limitations. But human beings are not automatically attracted to innovation: between the two lies culture and cultural values vary widely, with the egoistic accent or the altruistic intonation setting the scene. In the representations of open innovation we submit to the reader’s attention, selfishness and selflessness are active in the cultural space.

Popularized in the early 2000s, open innovation is a systematic process by which ideas pass among organizations and travel along different exploitation vectors. With the arrival of multiple digital transformative technologies and the rapid evolution of the discipline of innovation, there was a need for a new approach to change, incorporating technological, societal and policy dimensions. Open Innovation 2.0 (OI2) – the result of advances in digital technologies and the cognitive sciences – marks a shift from incremental gains to disruptions that effect a great step forward in economic and social development. OI2 seeks the unexpected and provides support for the rapid scale-up of successes.

‘Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come’ – this thought, attributed to Victor Hugo, tells us how a great deal is at stake with open innovation. Amidon and other scholars have argued that the twenty-first century is not about ‘having more’ but about ‘being more’. The promise of digital technologies and artificial intelligence is that they enable us to extend and amplify human intellect and experience. In the so-called experience economy, users buy ‘experiences’ rather than ‘services’. OI2 is a paradigm about ‘being more’ and seeking innovations that bring us all collectively on a trajectory towards sustainable intelligent living.


Why open innovation? Imagine having a fortress or a bunker for innovation: what would be the impact? Imagine further that to be open is to focus on the growing tips of the roots of a tree to see what new ground they penetrate. The essential space for open innovation is that liminal space between the roots and the new ground to be penetrated. This space might be seen as the ‘Twilight Zone’, the zone for open flow innovation. As is the case for the developing areas within a nation, it is often what is happening at the periphery that is most dynamic. According to Tone Ringstad, a founder of Culturengine, innovation builds on values like curiosity, creativity, flexibility and diversity. The ‘open’ dimension requires values such as openness, trust, responsibility, authenticity and sustainability. A key prerequisite is an altruistic culture with ‘capacity givers’, who form a bridge between brains – for smart alliance building or brain circulation. To support these cultural innovation drivers, there is a need for a space. In response to this need, the first Future Center was established in Sweden in 1996, known as the Skandia Future Center. The Center later mutated into Mind Lab, Media Evolution Hub, Living Labs, LEF, etc., marking the evolution of these capacity-giver spaces. The most recent mutation is Wise Place, a creation of the Future Center Alliance Japan and now in its third iteration. It is a place, or cultural space, for mind evolution and is based on, among other things, Zen cultural insights.


The ‘sharing economy’ involves the giving and taking of goods, services, your room, my car, our food recipes and alternative forms of money to create a new economic imperative. Its open-sourced character is the creation of producers, users, consumers and, crucially, citizens, who consciously or unwittingly are carving out a new economy with a collaborative, social impetus. Driven, on the one hand, by technology that refuses to be constrained in the hands of the few, and, on the other, by the fracturing of our economies and societies by inequality (ecological, demographic, the movement of people across borders), the giving-and-taking phenomenon is lubricated by new sources of funding and philanthropy. The sharing economy opens up possibilities for the further consolidation of wealth either in the coffers of a privileged minority or a reversal of wealth creation and the inculcation of entrepreneurship as the right and responsibility of citizens through the sharing of ideas, technologies and values, locally and globally in varied ‘commons’. This chapter offers an analysis of the phenomenon of giving and taking in an open-sourced environment and proposes ideas for a prospective citizen entrepreneurship to open up spaces for collaborative new ventures.


The title of this book suggests the possibility that new ways of managing innovative processes may favour an evolution of the economy towards an altruistic model. This chapter argues that the acceleration of innovative processes at the turn of the millennium has produced, or at least has not avoided, phenomena of the concentration of wealth and power in which it is difficult to discern an altruistic root. It is observed that the cultural models developed to interpret innovative phenomena are also focused on the profit of individual companies and not on altruistic values. The author goes on to indicate the appropriateness of referring to less limited phenomenological models and suggests exploring an analogy of innovation with Darwinian evolution. An outline of this approach is provided.


Many companies worldwide are currently involved in open innovation processes (OIPs), through which they aim to collect innovative insights and ideas from the crowd. The phenomenon has grown – and is destined to continue to grow – massively. As a result, there is strong interest from scholars and practitioners in rebuilding the relevant processes and developing a set of best practices. What seems to be missing from this developing topic of research is a focus on its antecedents and consequences. Since the phenomenon is so new, a focus on its consequences seems untimely. A focus on its antecedents, on the other hand, seems both promising and intriguing.

The fact that more and more companies are involved in OIPs suggests that they have already developed an organizational open innovation (OI) culture. If an OI culture already exists, how widespread is it and to what extent is it shared among those involved in knowledge ecosystems? With this question in mind, it seems worthwhile to investigate whether OI is supported culturally at both social and individual levels.

Finally, this chapter summarizes the state of the art of OI culture at social, organizational and individual levels and considers how an OI culture developed at company level may serve to drive its development at the social and individual levels.


This chapter describes the transition from single-helix roadmap innovation to Open Innovation 2.0 (OI 2.0), based on Quadruple Helix innovation processes. Innovation is intended to make things happen in new and better ways, but actual take-up is always an essential aspect of successful innovation. A change of mindset to be in accord with the behaviour and processes in innovation ecosystems is crucial for an understanding of the interdependencies and complexity management that lead to impact. OI 2.0 is a ‘mash-up’ parallel process in which the public policy maker needs to create a safe framework for this interaction (mash-up) to take place. OI 2.0 is genuinely intersectional, as innovation increasingly happens at the crossroads of technologies and applications – it is not the linear extrapolation of the past. To speed up scalability, all stakeholders need to co-create solutions and find innovations together in real-world settings. Only then do we have a strong driver to create new markets and services and scale up successes rapidly: There is inherent buy-in in this kind of innovation environment. At the same time, by involving end users as co-creators up front and seamlessly, less successful experiments and failing prototypes are rapidly revealed as such: ‘failing fast, scaling fast’ is one of the strongest advantages of OI 2.0. All this leads to the Quadruple Helix innovation model, which supplements the Triple Helix model (research, industry, public sector) with the additional component of the people. In the Quadruple Helix, citizens are not the passive objects of new products or services but active agents contributing to the whole innovation process.


In his inauguration speech of 1961, John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic and youngest-ever holder of the office of US President, famously exhorted citizens to ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.’ At the time, few would have interpreted this as a call for open innovation or even citizen crowdsourcing: neither the language nor the architecture then existed for either. But the sentiment he expressed marked the beginning of a campaign of citizen engagement in developing ideas for government. It was, in effect, the first national exhortation for the crowdsourcing of ideas, and Kennedy’s words have subsequently been adapted by Jeff Howe for the modern crowdsourcing context.

Citizen crowdsourcing is now well-established. This chapter sets out to assess how successful it has been as a mechanism for finessing original and meaningful ideas that advance social goals. We look briefly at leading examples of crowdsourcing for social good. We also look at the underlying factors that support it, including the knowledge and input solicited from the crowd; the crowd’s willingness to participate; and the mechanisms through which the crowd can engage. We trace the idea and practice of crowdsourcing back to Socrates in ancient Athens. We look at prosocial behaviour, exploring selected annals of public intellectuals, including Emerson. We examine citizen science as a forerunner of crowdsourcing, then move into the business strategy of open innovation and, finally, we arrive at crowdsourcing for social good in various guises. In conclusion, we explore what has been learned from initiatives that can now be considered current best practice in this area.


Cities, like other ecosystems, are changing and evolving at a growing pace. Therefore, innovation has become a critical success factor in the creation of ‘smart cities’. A smart city is one that uses technology as a platform to serve its citizens’ needs and foster innovative processes that enhance their quality of life. In this chapter, the authors present two case studies of urban open innovation processes in, respectively, Haifa in Israel and Bremerhaven in Germany, which demonstrate the engagement of all stakeholders, motivated by passion, altruism and the desire to cooperate. The first case concerns open innovation with the young, and the second open innovation with the elderly. Both case studies demonstrate how passion led to altruism which encouraged citizens to volunteer to contribute and co-create a better future for all the city’s residents by enabling better communication among stakeholders in the context of a complex urban environment.

Cover of Exploring the Culture of Open Innovation
Publication date