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Shedding lights on organizational decoupling in publicly funded R&D consortia: An institutional perspective on open innovation

Author: Bertello, A., De Bernardi, P., Ferraris, A., & Bresciani, S.
Published in: Technological Forecasting and Social Change
Year: 2022
Type: Academic articles
DOI: 10.1016/j.techfore.2021.121433

Open Innovation (OI) has traditionally been understood by scholars of this field as reflecting technical requirements rather than larger social and cultural meta-narratives. Drawing on institutional theories of organization, we argue that organizations adapt not only to technical pressures but also to societal expectations. The rapid spread of successful cases of OI adoption, and the increasing number of public policies promoting OI, may lead firms to address it as a way to conform to a societal mandate, or legitimacy, even though these pressures contradict internal needs for efficiency. To explore this perspective further, this paper turns to decoupling as an established instrument from institutional theory. By analyzing a case study of a publicly funded R&D consortium, we explore the factors that influence policy–practice and means–ends decoupling, respectively, across three dimensions: at firm, project, and network level. According to our findings, policy–practice decoupling is triggered by resource limitation, administrative burdens, and behavioral complicity while means–ends decoupling is triggered by technical complexity, best practice dissemination, and institutional complexity. This paper lays the foundations to provide a more holistic view of OI that explores why and how organizations adopt OI in response to societal pressures rather than technical ones.

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Alberto Bertello

Fellow: Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Society


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