Existing empirical research indicates that strong organizational barriers and inertia need to be overcome to ensure a smooth transition of a firm’s approach to technological innovation from Closed to Open Innovation. The objective of the paper is to study how firms can identify, plan, and manage a pilot project so as to unfreeze the status quo and prepare the ground for a successful shift toward Open Innovation. Integrating existing literature in the field of innovation management, organizational change and project management, the paper develops a conceptual framework which identifies three steps a pilot project goes through (i.e. conception, realization and transfer of project’s results) and the aspects that should be looked at along these stages so as to mobilize the organization and revolutionize its strategic approach to innovation management. These issues are investigated using a multiple case study involving 4 firms that can be considered as “early adopters” of Open Innovation in Italy. The paper provides several insights to R&D managers and Chief Technology Officers that will hopefully help them foresee and properly administer the organizational implications of adopting Open approaches to innovation management.
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