Friday, January 31, 2014

Thoughts on Open Innovation: a book edited by Shane Coughlan

The book “Thoughts on Open Innovation” was launched at the Digital Agenda Summit in Dublin in June 2013. The book aims to address the challenges surrounding Open Innovation; its precise scope, its impact on daily life and the policy measures needed to sustain it continue to be heavily discussed and debated. Its predecessor was “The First Openforum Academy Conference Proceedings” from September 2012 which also was a collection of essays mainly considering Open Innovation in the context of economics, society and global affairs, and this new book, on the other hand, covers openness more as it relates to software, data and access.

The introduction to the book is by Karel De Vriendt, a retired IT expert who worked for the European Commission for twenty years being actively involved in initiatives such as the Open Source Observatory and Repository (OSOR). He attempts to explain the basic concept of Open Innovation by first referring to the definition introduced by Professor Henry Chesbrough of University of California Berkeley but, however, today, the book claims, Open Innovation has a broader meaning and is part of the other “open” concepts, including Open Knowledge, Open Data and Open Source Software. The basic idea, the introduction continues, is that “by collaborating with others, by re-using (and by being allowed to re-use) the results of the efforts of others and by allowing others to use and improve the results of our efforts, we all get better.”

The book is introduced as attempting to address the following questions: “[H]ow can we balance openness with the need of companies to stay competitive and to make a profit ... and to provide enough incentives to bright spirits to continue to innovate? Is openness an absolute good: should all knowledge, all data, all software, all standards etc. be open or are there situations where openness should be avoided...? How do we organise the involvement of as many individuals or organisations as possible in efforts to solve societal issues using Open Innovation? How do we organise Open Innovation projects and ensure that such projects are, and remain, 'Open'?”

The author also explains the structure of the book, which is the following: It consists of an introduction and nine essays. The first two essays give the big picture. The two following essays describe examples on how Open Innovation works in practice. Then the next three essays deal with some of the most widely debated topics in the world of Openness: Openness and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) standardisation, Open Source Software in public procurement, and Open Source Software in the commercial world. The book then concludes with two more essays which are of a more philosophical and visionary nature. The review of the essays below is organised based on these groupings. [continue...]

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Licence and Attribution
This paper was published in the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review, Volume 5, Issue 2 (December 2013). It originally appeared online at
This article should be cited as follows:
Kärkkäinen, Kari (2013) 'Book Review: Thoughts on Open Innovation', International Free and Open Source Software Law Review, 5(2), pp 137 – 144
DOI: 10.5033/ifosslr.v5i2.92
Copyright © 2013 Kari Kärkkäinen.
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons UK (England and Wales) 2.0 licence, no derivative works, attribution, CC-BY-ND available at

As a special exception, the author expressly permits faithful translations of the entire document into any language, provided that the resulting translation (which may include an attribution to the translator) is shared alike. This paragraph is part of the paper, and must be included when copying or translating the paper.

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