When Culture Stops Open Innovation


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It took me a while to figure out why Danish companies are so slow at embracing open innovation and I found the answer in an unlikely place. German and Chinese people working with innovation in Denmark told me that they had a hard time getting to know Danes.

As the societal culture spills over to the corporate culture in Danish companies, it became quite clear to me why Danes are slow at embracing open innovation. Danes are world class at collaboration – as long as they collaborate with partners they already know and trust.

The thing is that it takes months or even years to really get to know your business partners and you simply do not have this luxury with open innovation. After all, the key benefit of open innovation is speed. Danish companies still want to feel out their potential partners for a longer period of time and thus they lose out on interesting opportunities.

At a recent session in Denmark, the participants fully acknowledged the issue so I think there is quite some truth to this.

I find it interesting to observe how societal as well as corporate culture can stop or at least slow down the open innovation movement and I wonder what other examples of this looks like.

Some say that many Asian companies are slow adaptors of open innovation because of their specific approaches to networking and business alliances (think guanxi in China or keiretsu in Japan). It also seems as if both Asian and Brazilian (South American) employees have difficulties challenging their superiors and thus trying to do things differently. On the other hand, Americans are very direct when it comes to business. This seems to be an advantage in the context of open innovation.

What do you think? Can you share any perspective on the intersection of culture (country as well as corporate) and open innovation?

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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