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Openwashing is defined by analogy with "greenwashing" [1] as the deceptive usage of PR communication tending to promote the perception that a product is open source. As in greenwashing, deceptive communication is enabled by the fact that the concepts which are referred to (e.g. "green", "sustainable", "open source") are potentially unclear both for the emmitter (e.g. PR department) or the reciever (e.g. general public).

Openwashing can for example refer to a situation where a firm promotes a crowdsourcing campaign as an open source process. In this case, the firm exploits the contribution of a community without giving back to the members. The members may turn their backs to the firm and avoid engaging in interactions, thus closing off a potential source of innovation [1].


  1. Cohendet, P., Simon, L., Sarazin, B., 2017. Les communautés d'innovation: de la liberté créatrice à l'innovation organisée, p31. Caen: Editions ems management et société. ISBN-13: 978-2376870418. 277 pages.