Open innovation in SMEs – towards formalization of openness

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Julien Dufour
Pierre-Etienne Son


Open innovation has been widely debated in management literature. However, little attention has been given to how small and medium sized enterprises manage to open up their innovation process. Consequently, various questions remain unanswered. In particular, we want to shed light on the following issue: how small and medium-sized enterprises manage organizational changes in their journey from closed to open innovation. A literature review examines how small and medium-sized enterprises open up their innovation process based on nine perspectives. Then, the reference framework addresses the organizational changes embedded in evolving from closed to open innovation. In this sense, we use acknowledged concepts on organizational change research to carry out an in depth-case study on a small and medium-sized enterprise evolving in the sports equipment industry. The results demonstrate that, in its journey from closed to open innovation, the small and medium-sized enterprise has to stimulate and to manage changes to four company’s dimensions i.e. corporate culture, networking, organizational structure and knowledge management systems. The paper concludes by highlighting the diverse organizational changes undertaken by the company on these four dimensions. Based on this paper’s conclusion, managerial implications and discussion for future research are drawn.

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