What does it mean to be open? A typology of inbound open innovation strategies and their dynamic capability requirements

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The benefits of inbound open innovation are widely acknowledged, but not all companies are successful in their attempts to leverage external sources of innovation. Those with dynamic capabilities perform better, but developing and maintaining such capabilities generates costs. Therefore, a given company needs to find out which capabilities are worth investing in. In the current study, I adopt a contingency approach to inbound open innovation. I focus on distinct open innovation strategies that vary according to their approaches to innovative search and accessing complementary knowledge. I develop a typology of six inbound open innovation strategies based on the dimensions of managerial attention (proactive/reactive) and locus of innovation (internal/shared/external). I further report their requirements for four dynamic capabilities: sensing capability, impression management capability, absorptive capacity, and collaboration capability. The findings bring attention to often-ignored reactive strategies for inbound open innovation and provide a nuanced view of how the division of development responsibilities in different phases of the innovation process affects requirements for dynamic capabilities. The study supports managers in implementing successful inbound open innovation strategies by helping them choose a strategy that supports their organization’s overall objectives and strike a balance between underinvestment and overinvestment in dynamic capabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalInnovation: Organization & Management
Early online date13 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Apr 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • open innovation
  • innovation strategy
  • dynamic capabilities


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