Generative and Degenerative Interactions: Positive and Negative Dynamics of Open, User-Centric Innovation in Technology and Engineering Consultancies

17 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2010

See all articles by Michael M. Hopkins

Michael M. Hopkins

University of Sussex

Joe Tidd

Imperial College London - Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine; University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU)

Paul Nightingale

University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU)

Roger Miller

Polytechnic School of Montreal - Department of Mathematics and Industrial Engineering

Date Written: December 22, 2010

Abstract

The related concepts of open innovation and user-centric innovation are currently popular in the literature on technology and innovation management. In this paper, we attempt to address two shortcomings to their practical application. First, the precise mechanisms supporting open and user innovation in different industrial contexts are poorly specified. Second, it is not clear under what circumstances they might become dysfunctional. We identify how the interaction of meso- and micro-level mechanisms contribute to project-based user-centric innovation, based on a detailed characterization of the business activities of eight technology and engineering consultancies working across a range of sectors. We develop and illustrate the notion of generative interaction, which describes a series of mechanisms that produce a self-re-enforcing ecology, which favours innovation and profitability. At the same time, we observe the opposite dynamics of self-reinforcing degenerative interaction likely to produce a cycle of declining innovation and profitability. In the specific context of project-based firms, we show that user-centric, open innovation can affect performance negatively, and we discuss the consequences (positive and negative) of different patterns of interaction with clients.

Suggested Citation

Hopkins, Michael M. and Tidd, Joe and Nightingale, Paul and Miller, Roger E., Generative and Degenerative Interactions: Positive and Negative Dynamics of Open, User-Centric Innovation in Technology and Engineering Consultancies (December 22, 2010). R&D Management, Vol. 41, Issue 1, pp. 44-60, 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1732444 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9310.2010.00631.x

Michael M. Hopkins

University of Sussex ( email )

Sussex House
Falmer
Brighton, Sussex BNI 9RH
United Kingdom

Joe Tidd

Imperial College London - Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine ( email )

53 Prince's Gate
London, SW7 PG
United Kingdom
+44 171 594 9115 (Phone)
+44 171 823 7685 (Fax)

University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU) ( email )

Mantell Building
Falmer
Brighton BN1 9RH UK, Sussex
United Kingdom
01273 877160 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/spru/people/jtidd.html

Paul Nightingale

University of Sussex - Science and Technology Policy Research Unit (SPRU) ( email )

Mantell Building
Falmer
Brighton BN1 9RF, East Sussex
United Kingdom

Roger E. Miller

Polytechnic School of Montreal - Department of Mathematics and Industrial Engineering ( email )

Montreal H3C 3A7, Quebec
Canada

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