Open Innovation in Developed versus Emerging Markets

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McLean Sibanda is the CEO at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria, South Africa. As a response to my blog post, Top 5 Companies for Open Innovation, McLean posted this comment / question:

“Any thoughts on experience based nuances of applying open innovation principles in developing as opposed to developed markets? My sense is that there is a need to develop customized models for open innovation in emerging markets, particularly least developed countries, that take into account, low IP awareness, low technological base, etc.”

I think McLean Sibanda is right on this. Open innovation is a broad term and I have often argued that it perceived differently between big and small companies companies. This often creates some confusion and mishaps. The same goes with developed versus emerging markets and here I can think of elements such as:

• The overall innovation infrastructure is not fully developed in emerging markets. This means that it is more difficult for innovation teams in emerging markets to get up to speed on open innovation and some “education” might be needed when they interact with teams in the developed markets.

It can also be difficult for a visionary company in an emerging market that really want to pursue open innovation to find regional partners that they can co-create and co-develop with. The latter goes for organizational development as well as with products and services.

• This one might be wrong and I have no data to back it, but some companies in emerging markets might have (even more) focus on short-term opportunities, which could hurt the ability to create the long-term relationships that bring the best benefits for all involved.

• McLean Sibanda brought up the issue of low IP awareness and this could slow down the open innovation learning curve as companies will be more careful about sharing their assets with others.

• My last point builds further on the first point on the innovation infrastructure. Open innovation is very much about having a mindset that allows an organization to embrace external input for the innovation process and if the innovation structure is not yet fully developed, you will have difficulties finding enough people with the proper mindset.

I will stop here, but hopefully my views can serve as a discussion starter. Let me know what you think of this topic.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stefan Lindegaard
Stefan is an author, speaker, facilitator and consultant focusing on open innovation, social media tools and intrapreneurship.

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