Current open innovation research has focused on a few selected cases and some empirical evidences, mostly in the USA. We already know the examples of Procter & Gamble, InnoCentive, Xerox PARC, IBM, Dow Chemical, Philips and Nokia. Although these cases are interesting, researchers need broader empirical data on the phenomenon of open innovation.
Since creation of the term "open innovation" by Chesbrough, the model has not yet been empirically examined using a large-scale dataset. As past research is mainly based on case studies or project experiences in single firms, I personally feel a strong request for broad, empirical studies arising in the scientific community.
Current empirical studies
There are only several broad empirical studies available on open innovation. Van der Meer  examines open innovation practices in the Dutch industry. The study found that Dutch companies have successfully adopted the principles of open innovation. Lichtenthaler , Lichtenthaler and Ernst  conducted an industry independent empirical study on technology transactions in 154 industrial firms in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Campbell-Smith  found that telecoms firms are increasingly embracing open innovation.
Laursen and Salter  analyzed the impact of different kinds of external innovation sources on performance. Drechsler and Natter  was the first study linking open innovation adoption with certain company characteristics and company performance. They used a Simultaneous Equation Model with three-stages least square analysis.
But still: Broad empirical studies are lacking.
|Author || Sample ||Country||Industry focus||Data collection ||Used Model|
|Gassmann and Enkel ||124||-||- ||Existing database, 12 workshops, questionnaires, side visits and interviews||-|
|Laursen and Salter ||2707||UK||Manufacturing sector||Using data from U.K. innovation survey||-|
|Chesbrough and Crowther ||12||USA||Chemicals, mostly Manufacturing firms||In-depth qualitative interviews||-|
|van der Meer  ||814 / 28||Netherlands||All companies (including service sector)||Written questionnaire & in-depth interviews (using Dutch National Innovation Survey)||-|
|Lichtenthaler ; Lichtenthaler and Ernst ||154|| Germany, Austria, Switzerland||-||Questionnaire||-|
|Campbell-Smith ||327||Worldwide||Telecommunication industry||Questionnaire||-|
|Drechsler and Natter ||279|| Germany ||All companies (including service sector)||Questionnaire||Simultaneous Equation Model|
As you can see in the table above, most studies have either a small sample, focus on only specific industries (mostly high-tec) or are limited to specific countries. In some cases, the study relies on existing data sources where with no direct connection to open innovation. What we would need is a large scale empirical study on a world-wide or at least an europe-wide level. I hope I can fulfill this with my research project. In the meantime, I am waiting for more empirical studies.
As long as it is a lot easier to conduct a single in-depth interview with an innovative company to get into a random academic journal, researchers will go the easy way instead of conducting large-scale quantative studies.