Changes in technology, increased globalisation, and intensified competition have contributed to creating an environment in which creativity and innovation are needed more than ever to cope with the situational and economic pressures that confront organisations (Reiter-Palmon & Illies 2004). Innovation allows organisations to diversify, adapt, and reinvent themselves to match the evolving market and technical conditions (Schoonhoven, Eisenhardt & Lyman 1990). In recognition of the limitations of internal innovation, organisations have also become reliant on external sources of ideas. This concept is known as ―"open innovation" (Chesbrough 2003c). While the topic is widely discussed in academic and practitioner literature, there is a lack of concrete guidance on what factors organisations should consider to increase their chances of success from open innovation. This study focuses on the first phase of the innovation process (i.e. idea generation), without successful execution of which the innovation process cannot begin. In particular, the aim of this study is to identify factors that are associated with increased organisational satisfaction with the quantity of ideas they collect from external individuals – External Idea Acquisition.
The study identifies, based on existing literature, ten factors that are thought to be associated with increasing the quantity of ideas an organisation collects from external individuals. Related hypotheses are developed based on the identified factors. To test the hypotheses, relevant items to measure each of the factors are developed through a systematic process. Consequently, through a survey with Australian organisations, the study empirically tested whether the suggested factors are associated with differences in organisational External Idea Acquisition. The study found positive association of seven factors (Offline Platforms, Virtual Stakeholder Environment, Inbound Marketing, Monetary Incentives, Employee Attitudes, Management Commitment, and Idea Management System) with organisations‘ satisfaction with the quantity of ideas collected; however, statistical support for three factors (Socialisation, Technological Support and Netnography) was not obtained. Post-hoc analysis identified an additional factor (Financial Support), which is positively associated with organisational External Idea Acquisition, though not mentioned in existing literature.
The implications of this study for both, research and practice, are significant. The study synthesises current research with published practice and ties together disconnected research ideas that relate to the idea generation phase, in particular acquisition of external ideas, of an innovation process. Accordingly, the project results deliver a holistic understanding of acquisition of ideas from external individuals, and provide a starting point for researchers to further explore the idea generation process. Furthermore, through an empirical validation, the study highlights approaches that are, in fact, associated with higher levels of satisfaction with the quantity of ideas that an organisation collects. Therefore, the discussion and implications in this thesis are based on leading research and successful business practice.