Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Technological Knowledge Co-Creation Strategies in the World of Open Innovation

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Technological Knowledge Co-Creation Strategies in the World of Open Innovation

Article excerpt

Introduction

The competitive environment in which firms have been embedded in recent years is characterized by high levels of dynamism and uncertainty. The continuous renewal of competitive advantage through the creation of knowledge, particularly technological knowledge, has become necessary in this knowledge-based economy (Argote & Ingram, 2000; Kogut & Zander, 1992; Teece, 1996). Technological knowledge is defined as know-how and competences essential to the process and execution of product and process development (Howells, James, & Malik, 2003; Lin & Chen, 2014). It includes basic scientific knowledge as well as applied and experimental development, design and prototype work and can be codified in the form of intellectual property such as patents (Howells et al., 2003; Nonaka, Toyama, & Nagata, 2000; Sammarra & Biggiero, 2008). Previous research has argued that technological knowledge is a major source of firms' competitive advantage and sustained superior performance (Arrow, 1969; Grant, 1996a, 1996b; von Krogh, Nonaka, & Aben, 2001; McEvily & Chakravarthy, 2002; Nonaka et al., 2000; Teece, Pisano, & Shuen, 1997). Technological knowledge co-creation has, therefore, become a key factor in firms' success in this turbulent global environment (Hagedoorn, 2003; Hagedoorn, Kranenburg, & Osborn, 2003; Mowery, Oxley, & Silverman, 1996; Nonaka, 1994; Samaddar & Kadiyala, 2006). Firms' technological knowledge creation process is increasingly open given firms' aim to revitalize their internal knowledge and gain advantages through external knowledge (Chesbrough, 2003; Grant, 1996b). Fierce global competition, shortened product life cycles, the increased complexities of new technologies, rising development costs and the risks involved in innovation all serve as catalysts for firms to create new technological knowledge and leverage their strengths with partners across organizational boundaries (Chesbrough, 2003; Inkpen, 1996).

Several scholars have highlighted the increasing importance of technological knowledge co-creation in firms' innovation strategies; for instance, one stream of studies focuses on how new technological knowledge is created and managed across organizational subunits, including individuals, teams, groups and departments, and on how to develop capabilities to create knowledge (Hollenbeck et al., 1995; Szulanski, 1996; Tsai, 2002; Tsoukas, 2009; Un & Cuervo-Cazurra, 2004). However, focusing on the intra-organization-based model of knowledge creation would ignore a key opportunity to address the problems associated with the uses of widely distributed knowledge (Lee & Cole, 2003). Therefore, a growing body of research has come to emphasize the need for inter-organizational knowledge creation, which facilitates the synergistic integration of internal and external knowledge into new products, processes and systems (Chesbrough, 2003; Dyer & Singh, 1998; Powell, Koput, & Smith-Doerr, 1996). For example, Easterby-Smith, Lyles, and Tsang (2008) argue that intra-organizational knowledge creation was optional but the inter-organizational knowledge was essential in order to meet the increasing pace of competition. Scholars such as von Hippel (1986), Mahr and Lievens (2012), and Lipparini, Lorenzoni, and Ferriani (2014) use networks as the unit of analysis and argue that firms are able to access specialized and complimentary assets, define market needs, and create new technological knowledge by forming inter-organizational collaborations with their vertical (buyers and suppliers) and horizontal (competitors) partners.

Strategic literature to date has provided important insights into knowledge creation (Barringer & Harrison, 2000; Newell, Robertson, Scarbrough, & Swan, 2009; Nonaka & Toyama, 2003); however, a systematic overview of the role, patterns, and outcomes of technological knowledge co-creation in a cross-organizational context remains lacking. …

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