Learning from open innovation in a context of a less-open country

Author: Aliasghar, Omid

Date: 2018

Publisher: University of Otago

Type: Thesis

Link to this item using this URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/8085

University of Otago


Chesbrough first coined the term “open innovation” about 15 years ago. Since then, a growing number of studies have shown that openness to the environment can improve firms’ innovation. However, most of the previous studies have focused on the development of product innovation through firms’ external search in high-tech organizations in developed countries. Less is known about how firms in emerging economies search for new knowledge from their environment to gain and sustain a competitive position in the market. In this thesis, by advancing the open innovation and absorptive capacity literatures, I discuss how firms operating in a traditional sector develop their internal capabilities, performance, and process-related innovation activities by tapping into outside sources of knowledge. This overall research question entails three related sub-questions, which are examined in three research essays through using a mixed qualitative (16 interviews) and quantitative (171 respondents) methodologies (the essays all use the same data). The essays are self-contained and focus on the same research context (the Iranian automotive industry) and level of analysis (the firm). While these essays use different analytical techniques, drawing from distinct pieces of literature, the common thread of the role of open innovation links them to the overarching research question. The questions tackled in this thesis add to the current research on open innovation and absorptive capacity in several ways: (1) opening the “black box” that rests between firms’ knowledge search and its performance, addressing how external knowledge search depth and breadth are associated with the development of potential and realized absorptive; (2) providing a deeper understanding of where and how firms can search for knowledge in order to better develop process innovation; (3) employing the concept of open innovation from an international perspective, suggesting a comparative view on the search for knowledge from domestic versus foreign firms to develop process innovation; (4) providing insights into how firms continue to draw on global knowledge resources in an effort to remain competitive, when they are prohibited from or face high barriers to trading across borders; and, (5) providing a deeper understanding on how emerging-economy firms – most especially SMEs – can benefit from open innovation.

Subjects: open, Innovation, capability

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