Opening and closing open innovation projects: A contractual perspective

Frano Barbic, Albert Jolink, Eva Niesten, Antonio Hidalgo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


In this article we introduce three concepts from transaction cost economics that have so far remained excluded from the open innovation literature, and that enable us to address the demands in the literature for an explanatory mechanism for closing open innovation: unanticipated disturbances, tolerance zone and interpretations of contracts. First, we argue that threats resulting from unanticipated disturbances are absorbed in a tolerance zone and lead to adaptations in knowledge sharing. Second, we argue that these threats and changes in knowledge sharing at the project level impact the interpretation of the open innovation contract at the firm level. Adopting a contractual perspective, the article contributes to the open innovation literature by explaining the tolerance zone of transitioning between closed and open innovation. We illustrate in a case study on a B2B open innovation project how a threat to value creation leads to a continuation of open innovation, whereas a threat to value capture leads to a closing of open innovation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-186
Number of pages13
JournalIndustrial Marketing Management
Early online date6 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Closing innovation
  • OI project
  • Opening innovation
  • Value capture
  • Value creation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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