Exploring open innovation maturity in a slow clock-speed context : evidence from the oil and gas industry

  • Stuart MacKinven

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Open innovation has been positioned as the new imperative for creating and profiting from technology (Chesbrough, 2003). However, there are a number of unanswered questions surrounding this new research paradigm. The theoretical issue is trying to understand what open innovation is and how this is different from other forms of innovation. There is also the industrial problem of companies wanting to become better at open innovation but do not understand enough about it to make the transition. In addition, evidence suggests that firms' strategic decisions in fast paced industries often differ from those in slow-paced industries (Noke et al., 2008).Therefore, the first stage in this research necessitated an exploration into existing literature and theory on open innovation and innovation more generally. This suitably provided the necessary knowledge to investigate how companies currently engage in open innovation, and assess whether or not there has been a paradigm shift towards open innovation as initially claimed, and to what extent industry clock-speed (Fine, 1998) impacts on an organisations strategic open innovation activity. This study adopted a deductive approach to research by developing an open innovation maturity model based on a literature review to explore how firms in slow clock-speed industries engage in open innovation. Using a mixed methods research design, this study was able to gather rich qualitative data on three core open innovation activities, as well as subjective numerical data to provide a metric towards open innovation maturity. Specifically, this research investigates open innovation maturity in the oil and gas industry. Throughout the data collection process, it became possible to gain a deeper understanding for how companies address these innovation activities. Moreover, it has ultimately enabled the ability to question the extent to which open innovation has been adopted in a slow clock-speed setting.This research finds that companies in slow clock-speed industries operate with varying degrees of openness, intuitively use external knowledge, and benefit from using many of the 'modes of open innovation' as expressed by Bianchi et al. (2010). However, there is very little evidence to suggest that this is objectively directed towards implementing open innovation as a mode of operation. Furthermore, for the firms who communicate that they engage in open innovation, they are yet to show evidence of internal organisational transformation and management of OI activities. Therefore, this thesis has shown ability for academics to observe practices of open innovation from a distance and cite that the firm is engaged in open innovation, but fail to ask how the company has transformed itself to reflect open innovation through organisational culture, business processes, individual roles, and performance measurement of key open innovation activities. Crucially, companies do not need to do open innovation to be successful; the key is in their level of maturity for innovation processes. Comparing these findings to the strategic framework proposed by Miles and Snow (1978), it is possible to see that a more closed approach to innovation prevails when adopting the Defender position, while a more open approach occurs when assuming a Prospector position (Bader and Enkel, 2014). For companies that are interested in reaching a professional level of open innovation, this study identifies a number of capabilities required for successful open innovation. In addition, the research proposes a Model of Strategic Open Innovation Adoption, highlighting open innovation as a process. This thesis contributes to academic understanding of OI by noting its difference from traditional forms of innovation by its explicit focus on communicating the complimentary nature of external knowledge on internal developments.
Date of Award20 Nov 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsEPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)

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