How to motivate employees in order to succeed with Open Innovation Projects

University essay from Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för industriell ekonomi; Blekinge Tekniska Högskola/Institutionen för industriell ekonomi


Today, internal resources are limited and could not master all new technologies that have emerged during the last few decades. The complexity and depth needed is too costly to maintain in house so the internal innovation functions have to be decreased as they do not generate enough return on their investment. Companies need to find new ways to meet their growth targets and one way is to leverage their innovation capabilities by using external innovations and not just rely on internal innovation. But changing the game from internal closed to open innovation comes with challenges when it comes to company culture and how the employees adapt. Open innovation can create conflicts between the internal team and external team. The internal employee might feel that their work is taken from them, increasing the risk of losing their jobs and specialists might become skeptical to an alternative solution in an innovation. To harvest the full advantage of open innovation the internal employees need not to resist open innovation and become motivated to participate and work with open innovation according to a best practice. This has led us to the Research Question: How could employees’ motivation be enhanced in Open Innovation Projects? The purpose of this paper was to identify key motivational factors for employees in open innovation projects as well as what can be done to enhance motivation in open innovation. Our hope is that the findings can be utilized in making open innovation projects more efficient and in the end contributing to a more efficient use of resources and a stronger economy. We have done a multiple case study with six European companies working with open innovation. Ten in-depth interviews have been conducted with employees at these companies. Based on extensive motivational theory like intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors, we have analyzed the motivations of the employees with qualitative methodology. Our findings show that to succeed with open innovation there are certain factors that stand out particular to open innovation, while other factors are relevant to all types of innovation. In order to fully exploit the potential of open innovation you need to find employees that are motivated by working with external contacts and celebrate collaboration. The employees need to have self-awareness that open innovation pose an opportunity to take advantage of external competence for his or her development as well as the opportunity develop better and faster products or service for the company. To enhance motivation among the employees each organization can facilitate open innovation centrally to reduce to resistance to undertake the effort to change way of working. Another key area to enhance motivation for open innovation is recognition of employees.

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