Espacios. Vol. 37 (Nº 05) Año 2016. Pág. 3

Entrepreneurial Orientation as Driver for Open Innovation

Orientação empreendedora como motor de inovação aberta

Eduardo Gomes CARVALHO 1; Joel Yutaka SUGANO 2

Recibido: 04/10/15 • Aprobado: 02/11/2015


1. Introduction

2. Open Innovation

3. Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Orientation

4. Method

5. Discussion and hypotheses

6. Final Considerations



Even past a decade, open innovation may be considered one of the hottest topics in innovation management. However, there are few gaps to be explored, such as the relationship between open innovation and entrepreneurship. One important construct in entrepreneurship is entrepreneurial orientation. The purpose of this work is to examine which entrepreneurial orientation dimensions works as open innovation drivers. This study is a systematic review conducted following the stages presented by Tranfield et al. (2003). Several hypotheses were presented to future studies.
Keywords: open innovation; entrepreneurship; entrepreneurial orientation; systematic review.


Mesmo passado uma década, a inovação aberta pode ser considerado um dos tópicos mais quentes na gestão da inovação. No entanto, existem algumas lacunas a serem exploradas, tais como a relação entre inovação aberta e empreendedorismo. Um construto importante no empreendedorismo é orientação empreendedora. O objetivo deste trabalho é examinar quais dimensões orientação empreendedora trabalha motores da inovação como abertos. Este estudo é uma revisão sistemática conduzida seguindo as etapas apresentadas por Tranfield et al. (2003). Várias hipóteses foram apresentados aos futuros estudos.
Palavras-chave: inovação aberta; empreendedorismo; orientação empreendedora; revisão sistemática.

1. Introduction

More than ten years have passed since Chesbrough (2003) coined the term open innovation. Although open innovation has triggered considerable attention in recent years (Du et al., 2014), generating an avalanche of interest (West et al., 2014) and covered many topics, others need attention (Gambardella and Panico, 2014). According to West et al. (2014), while open innovation research is highly cited and has influenced the direction of innovation studies, it has had a limited impact upon the broader disciplines of management and economics. One of these disciplines of management is entrepreneurship. Hossain (2013), in a literature review, affirms that the relationship between open innovation and entrepreneurship is still unexplored. This topic is interesting because according to Soriano and Huang (2013), over the last few years, the interrelationships between innovation, entrepreneurship or new business creation have become apparent within a vibrant research trend which fuses insights from different academic approaches.

However, some initiatives appeared focusing the relationship between open innovation and entrepreneurship. In the April 2013 issue of the Technology Innovation Management Review, entitled Open Innovation and Entrepreneurship, authors from Belgium and Norway had the opportunity to share their academic insights and experiences as they relate open innovation or entrepreneurship, or where these two topics intersect. This issue has five works between them Iakovleva (2013). Iakovleva (2013) aimed to extend the discussion about entrepreneurial strategies of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by including the concept of open innovation. The article shows how the innovative action of an SME may depend on the combined influence of entrepreneurial orientation within the firm and knowledge-providing cooperative links with knowledge providers. Other initiative was the work of Chaston and Scott (2012) that presents evidence about the impact of entrepreneurial orientation and open innovation in firm performance, but as the work of Iakovleva (2013), it did not link the dimensions of entrepreneurial orientation and open innovation.

Thus, an interesting research question is: which dimensions of entrepreneurial orientation are drivers of open innovation activities? Entrepreneurial orientation has emerged as a major construct in the strategic management and entrepreneurship literature over the years (Rauch et al., 2009), and for this reason it was chosen.

So, the objective of this work is to present hypotheses about the impact of the dimensions of entrepreneurial orientation in open innovation activities. To carry out this objective, a systematic review will be done. Considering the few works covering these topics, the systematic review will adopt as keywords for research the dimensions of entrepreneurial orientation: proactiveness, risk taking, autonomy and competitive aggressiveness. The dimension innovativeness will not be explored to avoid redundancy in the results.

Next, the theoretical background about open innovation is presented.

2. Open Innovation

Open innovation is a very rich and complex concept. Hossain (2013) believes that open innovation overlaps other concepts such as user generation, crowdsourcing, and distributed innovation. Huizingh (2011) seems to agree with Hossain, when he affirms that open innovation became the umbrella that encompasses, connects, and integrates a range of already existing activities.

The definition of open innovation is yet to be clear-cut, and what open innovation is and what it is not, is still being debated (Hossain, 2013).Most accepted definition of open innovation is provided by Chesbrough (2003): open innovation means that valuable ideas can come from inside or outside the company and can go to market from inside or outside the company as well.  However, according to West et al. (2014), even Chesbrough's definition of open innovation has evolved during this period and it was revised three years later to emphasize the intentionality of the knowledge flows into and out of the firm. Chesbrough (2006) affirms that 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. Open innovation is frequently contrasted with closed innovation. In closed innovation, a company generates, develops and commercializes its own ideas (Padilla-Melendez and Garrido-Moreno, 2012).

Yet Huizingh (2011) adverts as there is in medicine no panacea, a remedy curing all diseases, it is unlikely that a management concept has positive effects in any situation, implying that the effectiveness of open innovation must be context dependent.

To understand open innovation is important to know its activities. As affirmed by Hossain (2013) and Huizingh (2011) open innovation overlaps existing concepts as joint ventures, licensing in, licensing out, between others. However, the activities are classified in macroprocess or archetypes. Gassmann and Enkel (2004) divided the open innovation in:

  1. The outside-in process: Enriching the company's own knowledge base through the integration of suppliers, customers and external knowledge sourcing can increase a company's innovativeness. According to Lind et al. (2012), through this process the company's resource base is enriched by external knowledge sourcing. According to Conboy and Morgan (2011), this process is also referred to as inbound. Bianchi et al. (2011) cites as organisational modes for outside-in open innovation: in-licensing, minority equity investments, acquisitions, joint ventures, R&D contracts and research funding, purchase of technical and scientific services and non-equity alliances.
  2. The inside-out process: earning profits by bringing ideas to market, selling intellectual property and multiplying technology by transferring ideas to the outside environment. According to Lind et al. (2012), this process refers to how companies externalize their knowledge to bring their ideas to the market. According to Conboy and Morgan (2011), this process is also referred to as outbound. Bianchi et al. (2011) cites as organisational modes for inside-out open innovation: licensing out, spinning out of new ventures, sale of innovation projects, joint venture for technology commercialisation, supply of technical and scientific services, corporate venturing investments and non-equity alliances.
  3. The coupled process: coupling the outside-in and inside-out processes by working in alliances with complementary partners in which give and take is crucial for success. In order to accomplish both, the companies collaborate and cooperate with other stakeholders such as partner companies (e.g. strategic alliances, joint ventures), suppliers and customers, as well as universities and research institutes.

Some authors, such as Chesbrough and Crowther (2006) and Wang and Zhou (2012) adopt only inside-out and outside-in processes in their works. Furthermore, van de Vrande et al (2009) adopt the terms technology exploration and technology exploitation to define respectively inbound and outbound open innovation. Van de Vrande et al (2009) cite as example of outbound open innovation: venturing, outward IP licensing and employee involvement. Moreover, van de Vrande et al (2009) cite as example of inbound open innovation: customer involvement, external networking, external participation, outsourcing R&D and inward IP licensing. In our work we adopt the processes listed by van de Vrande et al (2009).

According Gassmann and Enkel (2004), all three the core processes represent an open innovation strategy, but not all are equally important for every company. Several authors such as Abulruba and Lee, (2012); Enkel et al. (2009); and Huizingh (2011) affirm that outside-in open innovation which is more predominant than inside-out. According to Inauen and Schenker-Wicki (2012), because ideas are indivisible, information can only be transferred once: it is impossible to share or sell just part of an innovative idea. The appropriability problem is a dilemma that firms face in the inside-out process, and because of this, the firms may fail to generate a profit from an innovation that they reveal, or they may even fail to retain the value that they have created with that innovation (Inauen and Schenker-Wicki, 2012). According to Huizingh (2011), one possibility is that while many organizations use external knowledge, only a few provide it, other potential explanations are that either the measurement scales, the respondents, or the samples in these studies are biased. However, Inauen and Schenker-Wicki (2012) adverts companies may consider capturing additional value from their technologies using an inside-out open innovation strategy for R&D management.

According to Hossain (2013), the role of managers and entrepreneurs to implement open innovation is still unexplored and studies that bring connection between entrepreneurship literature and open innovation may help to strengthen our understanding.

3. Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Orientation

The previous section concluded with the importance of studies that bring connection between entrepreneurship literature and open innovation. Although relationship between open innovation and entrepreneurship is still few explored, the relationship between innovation and entrepreneurship is obvious in literature. Authors such as Ndubisi and Iftikhar (2012), Swami and Porwall (2005), Zhao (2005) and Galindo and Mendez-Picazo (2013) explored the relationship between innovation and entrepreneurship. Even Schumpeter (1934) defines entrepreneurship as an endeavor that is centrally characterized by innovation.

One of the main concepts in entrepreneurship studies for the last decades is entrepreneurial orientation. According to Campos et al. (2012) entrepreneurial orientation has received substantial conceptual and empirical attention, representing one of the few areas in entrepreneurship research in which a cumulative body of knowledge is developing. Entrepreneurial orientation refers to the processes, practices, and decision-making activities used by entrepreneurs that lead to the initiation of an entrepreneurial firm (Lumpkin and Dess, 1996).

Entrepreneurial orientation has a positive impact in organization performance (Fernández-Mesa et al., 2012). The study of Fernández-Mesa et al. (2012) suggests that entrepreneurial orientation is an antecedent of organizational learning capability and innovation performance.

Although Lumpkin and Dess (1996) identify five dimensions of entrepreneurial orientation (autonomy, competitive aggressiveness, innovativeness, proactiveness and risk taking), typical conceptualizations of entrepreneurship orientation include three dimensions: innovativeness, proactiveness and risk taking. The dimensions are described below.

  1. Autonomy: is defined by Lumpkin and Dess (2001) as independent action by an individual or team aimed at bringing forth a business concept or vision and carrying it through to completion;
  2. Competitive aggressiveness: is said to reflect the intensity of a firm's effort to outperform industry rivals, characterized by a strong offensive posture and a forceful response to competitor's actions (Lumpkin and Dess, 2001);
  3. Innovativeness: according to Lumpkin and Dess (1996) innovativeness reflects a firm's Schumpeterian tendency to engage in and support new ideas, novelty, experimentation, and creative processes that may result in new products, services, or technological processes. Innovativeness represents a basic willingness to depart from existing technologies or practices and venture beyond the current state of art. (Lumpkin and Dess, 1996);
  4. Proactiveness: is defined as acting opportunistically to shape the environment by influencing trends, creating demand, and becoming a first mover in a competitive market (Lumpkin and Dess, 1996). According to Jalali et al. (2014) a positive relationship between proactiveness and firm performance is evident;
  5. Risk taking: involves the determination and courage to make resources available for projects that have uncertain outcomes, in other words those which involve risk (Villiers-Scheepers, 2012). According to Lumpkin and Dess (2001), risk taking refers to a tendency to take bold actions such as venturing into unknown new markets, committing a large portion of resources to ventures with uncertain outcomes.

However some authors differ in the application of dimensions. Table 1 presents a compilation of relevant works and its dimensions of entrepreneurial orientation.




Competitive aggressiveness



Risk taking

Covin and Slevin (1989) *






Covin and Slevin (1991) *






Covin and Covin (1990) *






Lumpkin and Dess (1996)






Lumpkin and Dess (2001)






Kropp et al. (2008)






Martens et al. (2011)






Fernández-Mesa et al. (2012)






Ndubisi and Iftikhar (2012)






Jalali et al. (2014)






Campos et al. (2012)






Antonites and Nonyane-Mathebula (2012)






Parkman et al. (2012)






Kirkman (2013)






Awwad and Ali (2012) *






Table 1 – Use of dimensions of entrepreneurial orientation.
Source: elaborated by authors
* Studies that consider competitive aggressiveness in proactiveness dimension or as synonymous.

Mello and Leão (2005) apud Martens et al. (2001) considers still a sixth dimension called networks. The variations in the applicability of the dimensions are justified by Lumpkin and Dess (1996). According to Lumpkin and Dess (1996) the dimensions may vary independently, depending on the environmental and organizational context.

4. Method

This study is a systematic review. According to Tranfield et al. (2003), systematic reviews identifies key scientific contributions to a field or question and differ from traditional narrative reviews by adopting a replicable, scientific and transparent process. Table 2 presents the stages of systematic review used.

Stage I - Planning the review

Phase 0 - Identification for the need for a review

Phase 1 - Preparation of a proposal for a review

Phase 2 - Development of a review protocol

Stage II - Conducting a review

Phase 3 - Identification of research

Phase 4 - Selection of studies

Phase 5 - Study quality assessment

Phase 6 - Data extraction and monitoring progress

Phase 7 - Data synthesis

Stage in-Reporting and dissemination

Phase 8 - The report and recommendations

Table 2. Stages of a systematic review.
Source: adapted from Tranfield et al. (2003)

The phase 9 (Getting evidence into practice) proposed by Tranfield et al. (2003) was not performed, being suggestion to future studies. The phase 0 and 1 were presented previously, respectively in introduction and theoretical background sections. Table 3 shows the review protocol (phase 2), that includes the phases 3, 4 and 5 criteria. The data extraction was paper based. The data-extraction forms included details of the information source (title, authors, journal, publication details) and any other features of the study such as population characteristics, context of the study and an evaluation of the study's methodological quality, following the recommendations of Tranfield et al. (2013). The data synthesis used (phase 7) is a narrative review that according to Tranfield et al. (2003) is the simplest and best-known form of research synthesis and will be presented in this article which is also the report (phase 8).

The present study has a considerable limitation. The access to journals and scientific databases in Brazil is provided by CAPES (acronym in Portuguese to Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel), a Foundation within the Ministry of Education in Brazil whose central purpose is to coordinate efforts to improve the quality of Brazil's faculty and staff in higher education through grant programs. However CAPES does not offers access to all databases.


Open innovation


Autonomy or competitive aggressiveness or proactiveness or risk taking

Bibliographic databases

Web of Knowledge and Scopus


2003-2014 May



Exclusion criteria

Articles which do not appear one of the keywords in the text (the keywords appear only in references).

Not published articles.

Repeated articles.

Articles not provided by CAPES.

Proceeding papers.

Table 3. Review protocol
Source: developed by authors

5. Discussion and hypotheses

The search in bibliographic databases found 339 articles. After exclusion criteria remained 91 articles. However, one article is a retracted article and because this was not considered. Thus, 90 articles were evaluated. The narrative review will be presented grouped by dimension of entrepreneurial orientation.

5.1. Autonomy

Autonomy dimension returned most results. Stock (2014) at study what are the drivers of effective inter-organizational new product development teams as means to integrate customers into the new product development process, found a correlation between decision-making autonomy and openness.

Chatenier et al. (2009) explored the gap of human resource development on open innovation, and according to them, to increase the success rates of open innovation, it is vital to learn how individuals create knowledge in open innovation teams and the problems they face. According to Chatenier et al. (2009) autonomy, among others factors, is a condition set by the parent firm(s) that could influence the collaborative knowledge creation process in open innovation teams. Chatenier et al. (2009) affirms that autonomy indicates the degree to which the team is allowed to make its own decisions about the content and results of the innovation process.

According to Markman et al. (2009), because large organizations are complex and require division of labour, the choice of structure has implications for work coordination and resource allocation. Despite of their study focuses on technology licensing offices in research universities, Markman et al. (2009) developed a hypothesis that concern all kind of organizations, consistent with open innovation theory: An autonomous, or decentralized organizational structure is positively related to commercialization outcomes. By commercialization outcomes we understand outbound open innovation.

Thus, the first hypothesis of our study is:

H1. Autonomy has a positive effect on open innovation.

H1a. The independent action of an individual or a team in bringing forth an idea or a vision and carrying it through to completion has a positive effect on customer involvement.

H1b. Actions free of stifling organizational constraints has a positive effect on customer involvement.

H1c. The independent action of an individual or a team in bringing forth an idea or a vision and carrying it through to completion has a positive effect on open innovation.

H1d. Actions free of stifling organizational constraints has a positive effect on open innovation.

H1e. Autonomy is positively related to outbound open innovation.

Support or not the first hypothesis is very important. According to Breunig et al. (2014), to guarantee alignment between ongoing activities and organizational goals, innovation management theory emphasizes management control and explicit innovation strategies as prerequisites for innovation performance. However, the same authors affirm that the theory on open services innovation emphasizes individual autonomy and incentives to foster open innovations. It may be a trade-off situation between control and autonomy. Controlled organizations and processes may constrain the innovation processes, limiting the employees' creativity. According to Brodner (2013) knowledge-intensive value creation processes, characterized by creative processing of knowledge, continuous problem solving and permanent innovation, decisively depend on human working capacity, on 'actionable' knowledge, knowledge sharing and self-management, in order to productively cope with the complexity, dynamics and inevitable uncertainties of turbulent markets deriving from that. Brodner (2013) stress that the tacit dimension of action competence, therefore, is of essential relevance for mastering these processes and according to its nature, knowledge sharing in work requires a high degree of autonomy, self-control, free interaction, and mutual appreciation.

Breunig et al. (2014) found that individual autonomy facilitates the internal and external networking required in open innovations, but individualized incentives do not suffice to motivate, mobilize and direct the collaboration and collective effort needed to ensure successful implementation of open innovation processes. On the other hand, Brodner (2013) stress the importance of collective effort. Brodner (2013) affirms that complex problem solving and customer-oriented innovations in the context of turbulent markets typically call for multifunctional teams for 'interactive value creation' across organisational borders. In this perspective, Breunig et al. (2014) offered the following proposition: innovation activities benefit from incentives and performance measures that capture innovation activities at the collective level, and not only individual behavior. So, the second hypothesis of our study is a changed first proposition of Breunig et al. (2014):

H2 – Open innovation activities benefit from incentives and performance measures that capture open innovation activities at the collective level, and not only individual behavior.

5.2. Competitive Aggressiveness

While autonomy returned most results, competitive aggressiveness has the opposite result. Only two works are related to this dimension. Park et al. (2014) focuses in downsides of external ties of individuals in knowledge acquisition. The work of Bengtsson and Johansson (2011) developed a conceptual framework that describes three contending market regimes in converging industries. Bengtsson and Johansson (2011) argue that several actors are involved in innovation process, developing knowledge using information from others. According to Bengtsson and Johansson (2011) the literature on open innovation and forms of collaborative innovation is growing and they find a gap in exploring the co-opetitive regime and the need to balance cooperation and competition in emerging communities.

Mello and Leão (2005) at perform an exploratory case study research in three Brazilian technologic small and medium enterprises, found no evidences of competitive aggressiveness. They pointed as possible reason to the absence of competitive aggressiveness dimension the situation of cooperation, intrinsic at business networks. Mello and Leão (2005) identified one more dimension: networks. Even in the seminal work about open innovation, Chesbrough (2003) affirmed that creating and appropriating value also involves third parties outside the immediate value chain. Taken together, these outside parties form a value network. According to him the value network created around a given business shapes the role that suppliers, customers, and third parties play in influencing the value captured from the commercialization of an innovation.

According to Mello and Leão (2005) the key concept to understand the business network is network identity. According to him, the network identity refers how the firm sees itself. Thus, it suggests in empirical studies replace the competitive aggressiveness dimension by network dimension, focused in identity dimension. Therefore, the third hypothesis of our study is:

H3. Network dimension has a positive effect on open innovation.

5.3. Proactiveness

The relationship between proactiveness and open innovation is also few explored. According to Fernandes et al. (2013), to the extent by which globalisation has advanced and deepened the level and consequences of interdependence between national economies, the business world has become ever more complex and exponentially more competitive. Fernandes et al. (2013) stressed that this scenario has driven companies to adopt proactive strategies designed to seek out sustainable competitive advantage and innovation has thereby now emerged as one of the core strategic priorities for companies seeking success in their business dealings.

Martínez-Román and Romero (2013) explored the nature and determinants of product innovation in small businesses from a survey of more than 1,500 small firms in Spain. They considered two levels of factors affecting innovation: the personal characteristics of the entrepreneurs (their age, motivations, educational background and degree of interpersonal trust) and the characteristics of the organizations' management, between them cooperation, risk taking, proactivity and specific innovation and growth policies.

Martínez-Román and Romero (2013) used as variable to identify proactive small businesses: alertness and identification of new markets and business opportunities. This variable may be explained as a systematic search for new markets and business opportunities. This way, the fourth hypothesis of this study is:

H4. Alertness regarding new business opportunities has a positive effect on open innovation.

5.4. Risk Taking

The last dimension investigated is risk taking. A considerable range of works analyzed this dimension. According to Kraus et al. (2012), to make the transition from the closed innovation model to the open innovation model, the firm needs to also create or adopt a different set of managerial and organizational tools. They affirm that firms need to be able to manage their R&D networks efficiently and have an organization capable of acquiring external knowledge. However, Keupp and Gassmann (2009) affirm that open innovation implies costs and risks that should not be underestimated. Keupp and Gassmann (2009) still advocate that risks associated with innovation should promote R&D collaboration. Banholzer and Vosejpka (2011) make similar statement. According to Banholzer and Vosejpka (2011) in programs that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, collaboration between customer and supplier, as example of Procter & Gamble's Open Innovation, is another risk mitigation technique. Hence, our next hypothesis is:

H5. Risk taking has a positive effect on open innovation.

According to Schroll and Mild (2011) while inbound activities do not include a great risk, outbound activities could be more risk because the firm may lose possibility to capture the created value. Considering this affirmation, the sixth hypothesis of this study is:

H6. There is a significant relationship between risk taking and outbound open innovation.

Jeong et al. (2013) deepens the debate, pointing the difference between licensing and selling. According to Jeong et al. (2013), relating the sales of the licensee to the licensing fee enables the licensee to lower the initial payment; however, this method increases the uncertainty associated with the overall revenue of the technology supplier. They explain that this is because the total amount of the licensing fee that the technology supplier will receive later cannot be fully determined until the licensee finalizes her economic activities derived from the technology. Jeong et al. (2013) still affirm that on the other hand, in the case of selling, the technology supplier faces no risk regarding revenue from the technology acquirer, having surrendered all rights to the technology. So, our seventh and eighth hypotheses are:

H7. Organizations with high-level of risk taking level adopt license, as outbound open innovation, more than organizations with low-level of risk taking.

H8. There is a negative relationship between risk taking and selling as outbound open innovation.

6. Final Considerations

Ford (1996) affirmed that the quality of a new theory should be judged based on its ability to suggest new interpretations of previous research and its ability to offer productive new directions for future studies. In this work new hypotheses were developed and presented to future works.

However, the present work has one limitation: the authors have no access to all databases, although most articles were read. Few articles were not analyzed, but even so, this situation is a limitation.

The first suggestion is to perform the phase 9 pointed by Tranfield et al. (2003). Empirical works are necessary to evaluate the presented hypotheses. It is important perform a qualitative study to present more hypotheses, followed by quantitative study. The empirical works should replace the competitive aggressiveness dimension by network dimension or, in case of qualitative studies, consider both dimensions and evaluate that possibility. Despite, it suggests use the network identity as construct for network dimension.


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1.Graduate in Information Systems, Master Degree in Industrial Engineering, PhD Student in Management. Professor at Federal Center of Technological Education of Minas Gerais. (
2. Graduate in Zootechnology, Master Degree in Management, PhD in Economics and Business. Professor at Federal University of Lavras.

Vol. 37 (Nº 05) Año 2016


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