Secrecy in Open Innovation and Open Innovation in Secrecy

35 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2020

See all articles by Jonathan Langlois

Jonathan Langlois

Ecole Polytechnique, Paris

Sihem Ben Mahmoud-Jouini

HEC Paris - Operations Management and Information Technology

Romaric Servajean-Hilst

KEDGE Business School

Date Written: November 1, 2020

Abstract

Previous research have opposed secrecy and openness as mutually exclusive processes. In this paper, we suggest a more nuanced approach to secrecy in open innovation, drawing from Philosophy and Sociology. We have conducted a two-year research program in the defense industry, collecting data on the practices of concealment in open innovation activities. We found that focal actors utilize distinct cognitive techniques to decontextualize knowledge in the course of open innovation projects in order to safeguard secrecy while preserving mutual learning. Further, focal actors design contrasted relational approaches to secrecy with their open innovation partners. Such approaches are based on the positions of secrecy boundaries, which are internal or external to the relationship. In fact, actors intentionally make use of the reversible nature of secrecy, balancing inclusion and exclusion of knowledge in partnerships, to meet objectives that sometimes go beyond knowledge protection. Finally, we build on our findings to introduce a capability-based framework of secrecy management in openness processes. This framework, which we call Knowledge Discretion, suggests that actors overcome tensions stemming from secrecy and openness playing on the contextual depth and relational breadth of external knowledge sharing.

Suggested Citation

Langlois, Jonathan and Ben Mahmoud-Jouini, Sihem and Servajean-Hilst, Romaric, Secrecy in Open Innovation and Open Innovation in Secrecy (November 1, 2020). HEC Paris Research Paper No. MOSI-2020-1396, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3724176 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3724176

Jonathan Langlois (Contact Author)

Ecole Polytechnique, Paris ( email )

1 rue Descartes
Paris, 75005
France

Sihem Ben Mahmoud-Jouini

HEC Paris - Operations Management and Information Technology ( email )

1, rue de la Liberation
Jouy en Josas, 78351
France

Romaric Servajean-Hilst

KEDGE Business School ( email )

Domaine de Luminy - BP 921
BP 921
Marseille, PACA 13288
France

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
33
Abstract Views
175
PlumX Metrics