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3.3 Open Innovation Focus (Utilizer-Driven Activities)

The term open innovation has been used to refer to a system where innovation is not developed exclusively internally within a firm, but using external sources (Chesbrough, 2003; Laursen & Salter, 2006).

To link the firms internal innovation process and the external sources of knowledge and expertise, open innovation often requires the intervention of intermediaries (Chesbrough, 2006). Such innovation intermediaries might be virtual online platforms (like Innocentive or Nine Sigma) than allow the interaction of external participants to respond to the firms' needs and proposed challenges. Additionally, localized spaces of collective innovation like Living Labs can also fulfill this role of intermediary, facilitating the users' participation and coordinating innovation processes (Almirall & Wareham, 2010).

Participants in open innovation activities accept to contribute to an innovation process in order to develop a new product or service for an organization that will commercialize the innovative endeavor in the market.

Open innovation participation often uses virtual online platforms as intermediaries. Virtual open innovation processes are however not out of this world as “innovation processes [...] do not happen in a void but are carried out somewhere – they literally take place” (Haner & Bakke, 2004, p. 5).

Face-to-face interaction offers though advantages for collaborative innovation. Even in the case of virtual teams, the periodic co/location of the members facilitates the success of the innovation project (Gassmann & von Zedtwitz, 2003; Leonard & Swap, 1999).

Localized activities of open innovation can take place in different spaces. Experiences of organizing open innovation workshops in Living Labs have encounters difficulties of both attracting participants and firms.

3.4 User Innovation Focus (User-Driven Activities)

An important differentiation has to be made between the role of users in open innovation and in user innovation. While in the open innovation model, users participate in the innovation process responding to the challenges proposed by a firm, in the user innovation concept, users innovate in a self-motivated and autonomous way (von Hippel, 1994, 2005, 2007).

Users often innovate in user communities, critical in the processes of prototyping, developing and diffusing solutions to their needs. Collaboration within communities accelerates the development and simultaneous experimentation of novelties (Shah, 2005). These communities are characterized by being emergent, autonomous and by sharing knowledge openly. These communities contrast with the dynamics in traditional corporate R&D departments where new knowledge and innovations are internally kept.

These communities are characterized by the voluntary participation of looselyaffiliated users with common interests. Communities members engage in the development and testing on innovations through an iterative process of trial and error where members give feedback to one another to advance in the development and improvement of products. These communities are intimately related to practice, and can be assimilated to the communities of practices (J. Brown & Duguid, 2000; Wenger, 1998a). Even if community members might interact through virtual communication, temporary co-location allow the common practice of the hobby (i.e. in the case of sports) or the sharing of tools and machines needed for prototyping. Face-to-face interaction also reinforces the community identity and facilitates the transfer of tacit knowledge (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998b).

The open sharing of knowledge, information and innovations are crucial in the collaborative work if innovation communities. Users are motivated to share their innovative work and engage in collaboration, however, user-innovators might also be motivated to not diffuse their work to third-parties. The appropriation of the innovation by a third party could impede a further development by users. Innovation communities might put in place several mechanisms to forbid external actors to take advantage of their innovations. For instance, the public exhibition or documentation of innovation, or registering innovations with open licenses that avoid the commercialization or appropriation of the innovations.

Beyond the intrinsic motivation, innovation communities and users might also engage in entrepreneurship practices and commercialize their own innovations, mainly in the cases of wide adoption of the innovation with the consequent appearance of potential buyers (Shah, 2005).

Even though hacker spaces or other similar terms like hacklabs (Maxigas, 2012) do not respond to a clear definition, they could be straightforwardly defined as being communities' workspaces which operate on the principles of hacker ethics (Farr, 2009; Himanen, 2009; Levy, 2001). They are driven by an open culture that, through a sharing attitude and a peer-to-peer approach, can enhance the development of distributed networks and social bonds (Bauwens, 2005). Emerging from the counter culture (Grenzfurthner & Schneider, 2009), hackerspaces are a large set of differing places, with one ubiquitous feature: a community of enthusiasts sharing a common motivation (Schlesinger, Islam, & MacNeill, 2010). Altruism, community commitment, meeting other hackers in the real world and having fun seem to be the most important factors of motivation (Moilanen, 2012).

 
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