Open Innovation: Revealing and Engagement in Open Data Organisations

Thomas Wainwright, Franz Huber, Francesco Rentocchini

Research output: Working paper


Researchers have focussed increasing attention on the digital economy’s role in
driving innovation and product development. One emerging digital sector is Open
Data, where organisations publish digital data, for free, that can be used by anyone to
produce new products and services. Government and private sector organisations in
the US, Europe, and emerging economies are publishing Open Data. We view the
processes associated with Open Data as a form of Open Innovation and use the paper
to contribute to filling some of the Open Innovation literature’ gaps. While Open Data
has been viewed as having considerable potential in enabling innovative digital
products and services to be developed, we argue that the economic value from these
products have not yet been fully realised. This is due to a limited research base on
Open Data’s use in practice, but also how Open Innovation operates within the sector.
Barriers include hesitation in publishing Open Data as the benefits and risks from
releasing data are unclear, while users can struggle to discover relevant Open Data
and use it. Drawing upon 30 semi-structured interviews with UK based organisations,
who publish and consume Open Data, our paper aims to look into their Open
Innovation activities. We focus on outbound Open Innovation, the risks that
organisations face, how they manage data asset revealing, and how ‘gatekeepers’ are
used develop external engagement with users to facilitate successful new products
development. We offer three main contributions to the Open Innovation literature. First,
we provide insight into open service innovation in the context of Open Data and the
digital economy, meeting calls for new insight into Open Innovation which occurs
within the service sector. Second, we examine how organisations adopt selective
revealing strategies. Finally, we contribute understandings into the role of gatekeepers
who cross intra-organisational boundaries and facilitate engagement
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages49
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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