Harnessing External Inventors


We collected evidence on best practice in managing external inventions

Theme: Open and Distributed Innovation

Dates: 2009-2013

Research Team: Professor Ammon Salter, Paola Criscuolo, Oliver Alexy

This project sought to identify better ways of harnessing the potential of external inventors – including the development of new systems for managing, monitoring and rewarding external inventors’ contributions. In doing so, the project helped to refine the measurement of the frequency, quality, and impact of external inventors on firms’ innovative performance.

The project also offered insight into the ways that organisations can integrate their external inventions with their internal capabilities, leading to a greater understanding of successful strategies for bringing in external inventors.

The ISC developed metrics that firms will be able to use to analyse, in real time, their open innovation activities and identify strengths and weaknesses. Second, the results cumulate into a collection of best practices, which can serve as a guide to firms intending to better integrate external inventors into their innovative activities. Third, it created new knowledge on the relevance and positive effects of external actors to firms’ innovative activities and staff development, leading to a number of journal articles both in practitioners’ as well as academic journals.

Project Update

Practitioner Dissemination:  After data collection was completed, 2 interim reports were submitted to the focal firm. Since then, more detailed analysis has been carried out and a final report is being prepared for delivery to the partner firm. This will outline the best practice methods for managing relationships with external inventors. An initial report on research results led to our research partner reconsidering the way it deals with external inventors. Building upon our suggestions, it is in the process of significantly remodelling its process for engaging with external inventors. Its new system builds directly on the findings of our study

Academic Dissemination:  Findings of this project have contributed to a publication in the MIT Sloan Management Review and California Management Review, which have been also showcased in a public event at The Royal Society, a Microsoft Innovation Outreach Programme, and an event hosted by the Digital Content KTN.

Notable Achievements

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