'Open' Disclosure of Innovations, Incentives and Follow-on Reuse: Theory on Processes of Cumulative Innovation and a Field Experiment in Computational Biology

41 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2013 Last revised: 7 Aug 2015

Kevin Boudreau

Northeastern University - Innovation & Entrepreneurship; Dept. of Economics; College of Computer & Information Sciences; Harvard University - Institute for Quantitative Social Science; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Karim R. Lakhani

Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Group; Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science; Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: August 4, 2014

Abstract

Most of society's innovation systems -- academic science, the patent system, open source, etc. -- are “open” in the sense that they are designed to facilitate knowledge disclosure among innovators. An essential difference across innovation systems is whether disclosure is of intermediate progress and solutions or of completed innovations. We present experimental evidence that links intermediate versus final disclosure not just with quantitative tradeoffs that shape the rate of innovation, but with transformation of the very nature of the innovation search process. We find intermediate disclosure has the advantage of efficiently steering development towards improving existing solution approaches, but also the effect of limiting experimentation and narrowing technological search. We discuss the comparative advantages of intermediate versus final disclosure policies in fostering innovation.

Keywords: open innovation, cumulative innovation, incentives, search, disclosure and access

JEL Classification: O3, J0, D02

Suggested Citation

Boudreau, Kevin and Lakhani, Karim R., 'Open' Disclosure of Innovations, Incentives and Follow-on Reuse: Theory on Processes of Cumulative Innovation and a Field Experiment in Computational Biology (August 4, 2014). Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 14-002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2288746 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2288746

Kevin Boudreau

Northeastern University - Innovation & Entrepreneurship; Dept. of Economics; College of Computer & Information Sciences ( email )

Harvard University - Institute for Quantitative Social Science ( email )

1737 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Karim R. Lakhani (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Group ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6741 (Phone)

Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science ( email )

1737 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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