Communities of innovation

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Communities that support innovation have been referred to as Communities of Innovation (CoI),[1][2][3] Communities for Innovation,[4] Innovation Communities,[5] Open Innovation Communities,[6] Communities of Creation.[7]



Coakes and Smith (2007) define Communities of Innovation (CoI) as a form of Communities of Practice that are dedicated to the support of innovation. They suggest that CoI can be formed from champions of innovation and their social network and that CoI are safe places for the creation and support of innovatory ideas.[1] COI are groups made up of motivated individuals working together towards a common goal, not because of orders from their superiors, but because they are convinced of their common cause.[2]


Communities of Creation[edit]

Sawhney and Prandelli (2000) proposed the model of Communities of Creation as a new governance mechanism for managing knowledge found in different companies for the purpose of innovation. Intellectual property rights are considered to be owned by the entire community although the community is governed by a central firm which acts as the sponsor and defines the ground rules for participation. This model lies between the closed hierarchical model and the open market-based model.[7]

Communities of Innovation compared to Communities of Practice[edit]

These are Communities that take total financial, administrative and operational control over the development of their communities. Democratically elected and answerable to the whole community. It is simply an extension of the community saving societies that have existed for centuries. The prime objective is sustainable environmental and social development controlled by the skills and finance available. It provides employment, improves the future prospects for all participants and their children, and injects a sense of pride and achievement. Using locally available materials linked to new environmentally friendly cost effective construction materials will produce affordable housing, schools and roads.

The Aga Khan Foundation is focused on reducing rural poverty, particularly in resource-poor, degraded or remote environments. The Aga Khan Foundation created the model of participatory rural development. The model of participatory rural development combines a set of common development principles with the flexibility to respond to specific contexts and needs. Programmes typically link elements such as rural savings and credit, natural resource management, productive infrastructure development, increased agricultural productivity and human skills development with a central concern for community-level participation and decision-making. The ultimate goal is to enable community members to make informed choices from a range of appropriate options for sustainable and equitable development.[8]

An example of something that uses this model of participatory rural development and attempts to enact Communities of Innovation is Aggrebind, a soil stabilizer. AggreBind is a, "unique, environmentally friendly, cross-linked, water based, styrene acrylic polymer with proprietary tracers. AggreBind is available in a wide range of colors to produce roads from insitu materials and for the manufacturing of blocks, bricks and pavers, for buildings and homes without using any cement."[9] AggreBind deliberately focuses on marketing its product for use in rural communities, giving the inhabitants of these regions the tools to utilize AggreBind as a building material and create a green, self-sustainable, better place to live.

Examples of Communities of Innovation[edit]

The COI that developed Linux[edit]

Traditionally, the company is the most efficient mean of managing knowledge belonging to different people. The primary motivation is job security, career advancement and recognition. Lee and Cole (2003) argue for a community structure for knowledge creation that crosses firms’ boundaries.[10] To substantiate their argument they put forth the case of how “thousands of talented volunteers, dispersed across organizational and geographical boundaries, collaborate via the Internet to produce a knowledge-intensive, innovative product of high quality,” the Linux kernel (Lee and Cole 2003, p. 633). The Linux community has proved to be a very efficient mean of managing knowledge belonging to different people. The primary motivation is value system, recognition and potential career advancement or hop. Lee and Cole (2003) argue that research on knowledge management has to date focused on hierarchy and therefore has not adequately addressed the mobilization of distributed knowledge, knowledge that is dispersed among many people. They note that, as illustrated by the Linux case, “the advent of the Internet and Web-based technologies has enabled specialized communities to convene, interact, and share resources extensively via electronic interfaces,” even across firms’ boundaries (Lee and Cole 2003, p. 633). People are able to contribute effectively outside their working hours. coordination of the work (including feedback) is possible even when people are working from different locations. The catchment area is therefore much larger and the critical mass of software engineers required to develop and maintain the Linux project was therefore achievable.

Benefits of Community of Innovation[edit]

Organizational Ambidexterity[edit]

Successful COIs increase innovations within an organization. They therefore have the potential to contribute to organizational ambidexterity, which refers to the organization’s dual capabilities of managing current business and being flexible and adaptable to meet future changes and demands.[11]

Nurturing Communities of Innovation[edit]

Interest in the practicality and concept of Communities of Innovation[edit]

Google search on “Communities of Innovation” generated 66100 findings on 24 June 2012.

See also[edit]

Contrast with:


  1. ^ a b Coakes, E. and P. Smith. 2007. Developing communities of innovation by identifying innovation champions. The International Journal of Knowledge and Organizational Learning Management 14 (1) 74-85.
  2. ^ a b Grimaldi, M. and F. Rogo. 2009. Mindsh@re in Fimmecanica: An organizational model based on communities of innovation. Proceedings of the European Conference on Intellectural Capital 236-245.
  3. ^ Schloen, T. 2005. Expertennetzwerke als Innovationsschmiede - das Konzept der Communities of Innovation. In Sylke Ernst, Jasmin Warwas, and Edit Kirsch-Auwärter, editors, wissenstransform, 40–53. LIT Verlag.
  4. ^ Judge, W. Q., G. E. Fryxell, and R. S. Dooley. 1997. The new task of R&D management: Creating goal-directed communities for innovation. California Management Review 39 (3) 72-85.
  5. ^ Fichter, K. 2009. Innovation communities: The role of networks of promoters in open innovation. R&D Management 39 (4) 357-371.
  6. ^ Fleming, L. and D. M. Waguespack. 2007. Brokerage, boundary spanning, and leadership in open innovation communities. Organization Science 18 (2) 165-180.
  7. ^ a b Sawhney, M. and E. Prandelli. 2000. Communities of creation: Managing distributed innovation in turbulent markets. California Management Review 42 (4) 24-54.
  8. ^ "AggreBind: Community Development". 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Lee, G. K. and R. E. Cole. 2003. From a firm-based to a community-based model of knowledge creation: The case of the Linux Kernel development. Organization Science 14 (6) 633-649.
  11. ^ Raisch, S. and J. Birkinshaw. 2008. Organizational ambidexterity: Antecedents, outcomes, and moderators. Journal of Management 34 (3) 375-409

External links[edit]