Explaining the concept of Open Innovation (OI) could be less challenging from a theoretical than from a practical perspective. In this sense, while researchers have spent the last decade trying to develop and establish the ideas, models, and theories related to OI, more simple questions related to its practical adoption by firms have been often disregarded. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to contribute filling this gap by investigating the adoption of different types of inbound OI models influence on firm performance under a contingency perspective. With the data collected by an Open Innovation Survey in manufacturing firms, we try to answer the question of how do different configurations of OI models in terms of partner, content, and innovation phase variety influence firm performance when moderated by internal context characteristics. The sample analysed includes the responses of 247 manufacturing firms from Italy and Sweden with different profiles of size and age. Using a mix of approaches to analyse the data we found first, three configurations of OI models, namely: super open innovators, selective collaborators, and conservative collaborators. Contrary to many studies showing that adopting OI does not have a relation with economic performance, we found that in some cases i.e. selective collaborators, firms can adopt OI to some extent and also have a high turnover. Second, we found that medium-sized firms differ from their smaller and larger counterparts in the extent to which they collaborate with partners such as universities, innovation intermediaries and firms from other industries. This study contributes introducing a perspective that integrates partner, content, and innovation phase variety, to understand different ways in which OI models could be adopted by firms. Moreover, this paper provides managerial implications showing that the idea of openness is not a dichotomy of adopting everything-nothing, but as a choice of diverse open degrees consistent with the firm´s context characteristics.
openess degree; partner variety; innovation phase variety; content variety; open innovation survey; manufacturing firms