Collaborative innovation network

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Collaborative Innovation is a process in which multiple players (within and outside an organization) contribute towards creating and developing new products, services, processes and business solutions. It might include the involvement of customers, suppliers and multiple stakeholders such as agencies and consultants[1]

Usually, firms that promote open forms of collaboration benefit from having access to different capabilities and knowledge, enhancing their competitiveness and accelerating their innovation process. On one hand, it enables small companies such as start-ups to partner with other players, complementing each other and taking advantage of different perspectives and resources. On the other hand, it helps large companies to speed-up their innovation process and time-to-market, overcoming bureaucracy and inflexible procedures.[2]

Collaboration can occur in all aspects of the business cycle, depending on the context:

  • Procurement and supplier collaboration
  • Research and development of new products, services and technologies
  • Marketing, distribution and commercialization

Collaborative Innovation Network (CoIN) is a type of collaborative innovation practice that makes use of the internet platforms such as email, chat, social networks, blogs, and Wikis to promote communication and innovation within self-organizing virtual teams. The difference is that people that collaborate in CoIN are so intrinsically motivated that might not be paid nor get any advantage.

Thus, a CoIN is a social construct used to describe innovative teams.[clarification needed] It has been defined by the originator of the term, Peter Gloor from MIT Sloan's Center for Collective Intelligence, as "a cyberteam of self-motivated people with a collective vision, enabled by the Web to collaborate in achieving a common goal by sharing ideas, information, and work."

Indeed, CoIN is a type of open collaboration that helps organizations to become more creative, productive and efficient. By adopting CoIN as part of their culture, these companies reduce costs and enhance synergies. They not only can engage employees from every level of hierarchy towards a common project (discovering new talents and promoting direct relation between employees) but also partner with external parties.


CoINs feature internal transparency and direct communication. Members of a COIN collaborate and share knowledge directly with each other, rather than through hierarchies. They come together with a shared vision because they are intrinsically motivated to do so and seek to collaborate in some way to advance an idea. CoINs rely on modern technology such as the Internet, e-mail, and other communications vehicles for information sharing. Creativity, collaboration, and communication are their hallmarks.[3]

According to Peter Gloor, CoINs have 05 main characteristics:

  • Dispersed Membership: technology allows members to be spread over the world.
  • Interdependent Membership: cooperation between members is key to achieve common goal. The work of one member is affected and interdepent on the others´work.
  • No simple chain of command: there is no superior command. It is a decentralized and self-organized system.
  • Work towards a common goal: member are willing to contribute, work and share freely.
  • Dependence on trust: cooperative behavior and mutual trust is needed to work efficiently within the network.

There also are five essential elements of collaborative innovation networks (what Gloor calls their "genetic code") are as follows:

  1. Evolve from learning networks[clarification needed]
  2. Feature sound ethical principles
  3. Based on trust and self-organization
  4. Make knowledge accessible to everyone
  5. Operate in internal honesty and transparency

One example of CoIN is Wikipedia, since gathers thousands of volunteers that constantly write and update content. It does not have a hierarchy nor a central authority. Volunteers are contributing towards knowledge sharing and they have a strong feeling of community.

CoINs existed well before modern communication technology enabled their creation and development. Peter Gloor and Scott Cooper, in their book, describe Benjamin Franklin's "Junto" organization in Philadelphia as a COIN paradigm. Franklin brought together people with diverse backgrounds, from varying occupations, but of like mind to share knowledge and promulgate innovation.

Similar is the concept of the "Self-Organizing Innovation Network", it has been described by author, Robert Rycroft of the Elliott School of International Affairs of George Washington University.


As COINs become increasingly popular among governments and corporations, the ethical, financial, economic, and cognitive issues which drive incentives will inevitably face challenges. Over time potential innovators may be unwilling to participate in projects merely on the basis of implied financial gain. As globalization begins to impact traditional models of planned social progress, the broader political context in which participants cooperate has become more relevant lately. This suggests an increased need for independent parties to collaborate on the basis of agreed upon principles and objectives, ultimately this could encompass the interests of humanity and the emergence of a global culture.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kodama (2015). Collaborative Innovation: Developing Health Support Ecosystems. Routledge. 
  2. ^ World Economic Forum (2015). "Collaborative Innovation Transforming Business, Driving Growth." (PDF). 
  3. ^ "Collaborative Innovation". Archived from the original on 2011-08-21. Retrieved 2014-09-16.  (English)

Further reading[edit]

  • Peter Gloor (2005) Swarm Creativity: Competitive Advantage Through Collaborative Innovation Networks. ISBN 0-19-530412-8
  • Peter Gloor and Scott Cooper (2007) Coolhunting: Chasing Down the Next Big Thing. ISBN 0-8144-7386-5
  • Silvestre, B. S., Dalcol, P. R. T. (2009) Geographical proximity and innovation: Evidences from the Campos Basin oil & gas industrial agglomeration — Brazil. Technovation, Vol. 29 (8), pp. 546–561.
  • Gillett, A.G. and Smith, G., 2015. Creativities, innovation, and networks in garage punk rock: A case study of the Eruptörs. Artivate: A Journal of Entrepreneurship in the Arts, pp. 9–24.

External links[edit]