The role of contracts and intellectual property rights in open innovation

Johan Hagedoorn, Ann-Kristin Zobel

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Our exploratory empirical study, based on interviews and a survey of firms, addresses a number of questions on the role of formal contracts and intellectual property rights in the context of firm-to-firm open innovation. We find that firms active in open innovation have a very strong preference for the governance of their open innovation relationships with other firms through formal contracts. Also, despite the open nature of open innovation, firms still see intellectual property rights as highly relevant to the protection of their innovative capabilities. We find the degree of openness of firms, their formal legal attitude, and the competitive dynamics of their product market environment to be related to the preference of open innovation firms for intellectual property rights. Furthermore, the strength of firms’ internal R&D capabilities increases the positive relationship between openness and the preference for intellectual property rights.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1050-1067
Number of pages18
JournalTechnology analysis & strategic management
Issue number9
Early online date16 Jun 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jun 2015


  • open innovation
  • contracts
  • IPR

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