Open Innovation: Not So New
| Peter Klein |
The new issue of the always-interesting Industrial and Corporate Change features a paper by the always-interesting David Mowery, “Plus Ca Change: Industrial R&D in the Third Industrial Revolution.” Picking up this blog’s theme that Very Little Is New Under the Sun (OK, not explicitly), Mowery argues that the much-touted New Econonmy concept of “open innovation” is not, in fact, completely new, but an incremental change from previous R&D practices:
The structure of industrial R&D has undergone considerable change since 1985, particularly in the United States. But rather than creating an entirely novel system, this restructuring has revived important elements of the industrial research system of the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In particular, many of the elements of the Open Innovation approach to R&D management are visible in this earlier period. This article surveys the development of industrial R&D in the United States during the postwar period. In addition to emphasizing continuity rather than discontinuity, this discussion of the development of US industrial R&D during the Third Industrial Revolution stresses the extent to which industrial R&D in the United States, no less than in other nations, is embedded in a broader institutional context. My discussion also highlights the extent to which its development has been characterized by considerable path dependency.