• Michelle Walker

Book Club of One: Book Report 3

A stack of books on a table in a library reading area.

I really had no idea what reading about open innovation might be about, other than I thought it was loosely connected to the ideas of open source.

Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm was as eye-opening about the mechanisms for innovation as Intellectual Property and Theories of Justice was thought-provoking. The concept of open innovation is fairly new as a topic of academic and management discourse, and originated in 2003 with editor Henry Chesbrough. His definition of open innovation is: the use of purposive inflows and outflows of knowledge to accelerate internal innovation, and expand the markets for external use of innovation, respectively.

This book is a collection of research essays that pose a series of questions for the research community about the next frontier of researching the processes of innovation. Having just finished a text on intellectual property and theories of justice and spent some time reflecting on the nature of knowledge, I was most drawn to the third part of the book that focuses on the domains of knowledge, networks, and systems.

The interplay of networks and systems are common strategic landscape issues in the nonprofit sector. Networks and systems have powerful, though often unclear levers, that impact how nonprofits do their work, are able to serve stakeholders, and find pathways to achieving mission-related goals in a landscape they cannot control.

Those domain ideas stick with me, but what else emerged was a set of questions best summarized with: Do nonprofit managers realize how much knowledge flows into and out of the organization and the impact that knowledge has on its work?