Open Innovation und individuelle Wissensabsorption : eine empirische Analyse individueller Präferenzen bei der Integration externen Wissens

  • Open innovation and individual absorptive capacity : empirical analysis of individual preferences

Gruel, Wolfgang; Piller, Frank Thomas (Thesis advisor)

Aachen : Publikationsserver der RWTH Aachen University (2013, 2014)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Aachen, Techn. Hochsch., Diss., 2013


The opening of innovation process has received great attention in theory and practice during recent years. Many companies are facing problems at the implementation and management of open innovation processes. Existing research suggests that the pure fact that knowledge comes from outside an organization is already a disadvantage for this knowledge. In order to assess the chances of successfully integrating external knowledge, it must be examined whether the initial situation for external knowledge is significantly different from the initial situation of internal knowledge. Thus, the study focusses on the following questions: (a) Do members of an organization tend to prefer internal or external knowledge? (b) Which factors are influencing these preferences? Based on Social-Identity-Theory, Optimal-Distinctiveness-Theory and the Motivation-Opportunity-Framework Hypotheses about the existence of preferences for internal or external knowledge and possible influencing factors were developed. The hypotheses were tested in a large-scale study within a corporate setting (n = 3755). The study was carried out on two measurement levels: On the one hand on the level of general knowledge absorption (measurement level 1). Here, the preferences were examined through an online questionnaire. On the other hand, at the level of assessing previously unknown knowledge (measurement level 2). This level investigated experimentally whether preferences for internal or external knowledge were already existent at the first contact with an idea. The setting was chosen in order to measure knowledge preferences both isolated and in the daily work context of the participants. It was found that there are significant differences between the two measurement levels. While there were preferences for internal knowledge on level 1, preferences due to the origin of knowledge could not be detected on level 2. Furthermore, several factors that are affecting knowledge preferences could be identified. Two factors with opposite influence were perceived competition and identification with the company. The duration of group membership, as well as skills and different motives also had an impact on the knowledge preferences. The effects between the two measurement levels were partially different. Central implications of the study are:1. In addition to the often mentioned preferences for internal knowledge, also preferences for external knowledge could be found. This phenomenon has so far been poorly understood.2. The preferences and their influencing factors varied between the investigated contexts: 3. Some of the studied factors had an impact not only on the preferences, but can also significantly influence the innovation process beyond. For example, while the perceived competition can promote preferences for external knowledge, competition is also a potential source of internal conflicts.


  • Chair of Technology and Innovation Management (TIM) [812710]