Existing academic and popular literature suggests that unsolicited ideas, the non-contractual and voluntary submission of innovation-related information from external sources to the firm, offer the promise of a bountiful and low-cost tool to sustain and extend firms’ R&D efforts. Yet, in practice, many organizations find it difficult to deal with unsolicited ideas because of high quantity, low quality, and the need to transfer IP ownership. This article identifies a range of practices that allow organizations to meet these challenges and therefore realize some of the potential of unsolicited ideas for R&D.
The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the UK Innovation Research Centre–which is sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council; the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts; the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; and the Technology Strategy Board–and the support of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Furthermore, the authors would like to thank the editorial team, the reviewers, and Bruce Tether, whose insightful comments helped substantially improve the quality of the manuscript.
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