Open innovation, contracts, and intellectual property rights: an exploratory empirical study

John Hagedoorn & Ann-Kristin Ridder


Our exploratory empirical study, based on a series of in-depth interviews and a survey of firms, searches for answers on a number of questions that deal with the role of formal contracts and intellectual property rights in the context of open innovation. We find that firms active in open innovation have a strong preference for the governance of their open innovation relationships through formal contracts. These contracts are relevant from both a control and a process monitoring perspective. Also, despite the open nature of open innovation, firms still see intellectual property rights as highly relevant to the protection of their innovative capabilities. In a first attempt to explain this preference for intellectual property rights by open innovation firms, we find the degree of openness of firms, their legalistic attitude, and the competitive dynamics of their product market environment to be related to this preference.

JEL codes: K11, K12, L24

Keywords: open innovation, contracts, intellectual property rights