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
Date Written: September 7, 2011
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: Suggested Citation