No Soliciting: Strategies for Managing Unsolicited Innovative Ideas

California Management Review, 54 (3), pp. 116-139

36 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2010 Last revised: 12 Jun 2014

See all articles by Oliver Alexy

Oliver Alexy

Technische Universität München (TUM), TUM School of Management

Paola Criscuolo

Imperial College Business School

Ammon Salter

University of Bath - School of Management

Date Written: September 7, 2011

Abstract

Unsolicited ideas, the non-contractual and voluntary submission of innovation-related information from external sources to the firm, hold the promise of becoming an almost costless and limitless font for firms’ innovative efforts. In contrast, in this paper, we analyze the difficulties associated with unsolicited ideas processes to understand the problems that firms intending to engage in this form of open and distributed innovation are facing. In particular, we look at the costs that arise from the managerial attention unsolicited ideas require, and the legal setting the process is embedded in. We do so using a series of exploratory interviews, an in-depth case study, and a web-based analysis of the current management practices used by the world’s 150 largest firms. Highlighting quality, quantity, and Intellectual Property issues as the key concerns, we uncover that firms use distinct strategies, which we label signaling, structuring, and selecting, to increase the efficiency and efficacy of the unsolicited ideas process. We discuss the implication of our findings for theories of open and distributed innovation and for management practice.

NOTE: Please note that the published version has been substantially extended beyond this draft. Please see Alexy, O., Criscuolo, P., & Ammon, S. 2012. Managing unsolicited ideas for R&D. California Management Review, 54(3): 116-139.

Keywords: Unsolicited Ideas, Open Innovation, Distributed Innovation, Allocation of Attention, Intellectual Property

JEL Classification: O32, O31, O30, M11

Suggested Citation

Alexy, Oliver and Criscuolo, Paola and Salter, Ammon, No Soliciting: Strategies for Managing Unsolicited Innovative Ideas (September 7, 2011). California Management Review, 54 (3), pp. 116-139. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1659749 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1659749

Oliver Alexy (Contact Author)

Technische Universität München (TUM), TUM School of Management ( email )

Arcisstr. 21
Munich, 80333
Germany
+49-89-289-52803 (Phone)
+49-89-289-52899 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ent.wi.tum.de

Paola Criscuolo

Imperial College Business School ( email )

South Kensington Campus
Exhibition Road
London SW7 2AZ, SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/people/p.criscuolo

Ammon Salter

University of Bath - School of Management ( email )

Claverton Down
Bath, BA2 7AY
United Kingdom

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