Is Open Innovation the Solution to Economic Growth?

September 8, 2011 By Aminda

Today in the U.S., President Obama informed the nation of plans to aid the economy through the American Jobs Act. If approved by Congress, measures in the $447 billion package would, among other things, provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and payroll tax cuts for small business. The plan comes in the wake of a national credit downgrade earlier this summer.


Naturally, open innovation experts are going to have a different perspective on how the nation’s economics can be improved. Henry Chesbrough cautions about taking a nationalistic approach to recovery. “Open innovation seeks useful industrial knowledge from all over the world and open innovation companies actively engage with suppliers (among others) from all over the world”, he writes. As a case study, he points to the open innovation model used by Taiwan Semiconductor Corporation (TSMC), which helped “propel the US past the Japanese in the 1990s, at a time when the Japanese were threatening to take over the semiconductor market.”

Another Forbes writer, Haydn Shaughnessy points out that technology has given us the tools to change how economics and politics are done and envisions structural transformation, with less Government and lower taxes. Among his observations is the trending disaggregated social workforce which he calls “a step into a new world of cooperative production” and continues to say that being able to call on labor at short notice is the logical way to build wealth.

Also, says Shaughnessy, social networks provide a way for many sectors to amalgamate production and consumption. He foresees local governments taking more control of economic development, at the level “where all the action is.” This trend is appropriate as we enter an era of mass differentiation “where we can comfortably serve a thousand or ten thousand micromarkets, where previously we could only serve four mass markets”—providing new opportunities for people to create micro-businesses.

What do you think? How does open innovation contribute to economic transformation?

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