Innovation, which used to be the result of a single, sometimes heroic, entrepreneur, is progressively turning into a collaborative endeavor, better described as the result of a complex process with multiple actors.
This thesis aims to explore this collaborative aspect of innovation by digging into two strands of research. One uses Agent Based Modeling to create theoretical models, where the other one uses qualitative analysis to devise some insights from organizations Living Labs that aim to involve users in innovation.
In addition to understanding innovation as an open process, a closed one seems sometimes to be equally successful. In fact, very simple and very complex mobile phones seem to follow this later approach. Under what conditions innovation benefits from being open and when better results can be obtained from retaining control of the whole process is our first research question.
This process of collaboration, characteristic of the open approach, is normally considered at a micro level, as a result of a dyadic interaction between agents. Nevertheless, there is a macro level characterized by institutions, such as Business Schools, that play an important role in uncovering Best Practices and building hypothesis that, if successful, will be adopted by the agents.
Understanding how this process works; how many cases should be collected and how comprehensive they should be; how much companies can rely on the insights of Business Schools; and when it is necessary to engage in exploration, is also necessary when characterizing innovation as a collective process.
The mechanisms of collaboration are, however, not all well understood. Innovation is no longer in the solely hands of R&D laboratories or even organizations, users play an increasingly significant role and are being perceived as holding vast potential. Living Labs is one attempt to provide structure and governance to user involvement in innovation. Here, we will examine what is the contribution of users, how Living Labs aim to capture relevant knowledge and apply it, and when and how this proves successful.