I have argued in the past that Open Innovation offers opportunities for firms and institutions in Africa to become innovative. These opportunities manifest itself primarily in the access open innovation offers to knowledge, research and product/service development.
In a climate of open innovation, firms have to tap into external sources of knowledge. Henrey Chesbrough (The Father of Open Innovation) defines open innovation as “ the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively”.
However, to convert these opportunities to value, firms and institutions need to have a strong abosorptive capacity. Absorptive capacity has been defined as “a firm’s ability to recognize the value of new information, assimilate it, and apply it to commercial ends”. A report by the OCED,( Innovation and the Development agenda) Edited by Erika Kraemer-Mbula and Watu Wamae, pointed out that the absorptive capacities of many companies and indeed institutions in Africa is weak. See our feature on this.
Does this suggest that firms will not be able to take advantage if the opportunities presented through open innovation? This question is of course, in the realm of academic research.
I have, however, put together some articles on the subject. I hope it will get managers thinking. Innovation Africa is launching a consulting service in October 2012. Part of our service will be working with companies and organizations to enhance their innovation management.
Francis Stevens George