Innovation community

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Current typologies on communities distinguish: practice, user, virtual, interest, epistemic and internal or external to a firm; communities. These can however be regrouped under “innovation communities”[1]. Until recently, these communities were fringe to a firm’s innovation dynamics. However nowadays, they are no longer peripheral to the firm, but have become active central units that serve to generate and validate new ideas at the root of original products and services.

Communities of practice[2] are comprised of members (usually in the same organization) engaged in a similar practice – profession for instance, who share regularly amongst each other in that field (through different means: e-mails, face to face meetings, seminars, etc...) Such a community allows its members to improve their individual competences through the exchange of a common pool of resources that are built at the same as the community grows.

User communities[3] whereas communities of practice are characterized by their attachment to a given firm, communities can go beyond organizational borders. Product or service user communities are important sources of potential innovation, which can be observed in the spheres of new technologies such as the community of Apple users, for instance, or video games, or fan communities associated with an artist or an athlete.

Economic literature on communities is also interested in the processes of virtual communities, linked to the development of the internet, such as the hackers communities in the case of the Linux operating system who create activity, content, and innovations.

Interest communities[4] are based on members with a common interest, such as a cause like families of Alzeihmer patients, or of an endangered environmental site. They can play an innovation role as in the Michelin Open Lab case.


  1. Cohendet, P., Simon, L., Sarazin, B., 2017. Les communautés d'innovation: de la liberté créatrice à l'innovation organisée. Caen: Editions ems management et société. p.31
  2. Lave, J. and Wenger, E., 1991. Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge university press, cited in Cohendet et al., 2017
  3. Von Hippel, E., 1986. Lead users: a source of novel product concepts. Management science, 32(7), pp.791-805, cited in Cohendet et al., 2017
  4. Fisher, G., 2002. Learning through the interaction of multiple knowledge systems. Working paper Center for lifelong learning and design (L3D), Department of Computer science and institute of cognitive science, university of Colorado,