Performing openness: how the interplay between knowledge sharing and digital infrastructure creates multiple accountabilities

Tomas Träskman, Matti Skoog

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    The present study aims to address the emergence of platform-organized open innovation (OI). The research has the two main aims: the first is to increase the understanding of the performance of OI by investigating how the achievements of OI are measured in situated practices from a performative and strategic knowledge management (SKM) orientation. The methodological disadvantages of not pre-given case selection are partially counterbalanced by the second aim of the research, which is to extend existing SKM theory and examine how platforms create knowledge as they include actors and digital devices, thereby potentially redistributing relations of accountability.

    Building on performativity theory, the paper studies how the achievements and knowledge created in OI are managed and evaluated in practice. The case description draws on different sources from a spiral case study, as openness is performed by platform, firm, crowd and innovation intermediaries.

    The paper illustrates how a strategy of digitally enabled openness brings its own issues as platforms enable knowledge sharing and perform a redistribution of accountability. In the heterarchies studied through this research endeavor, managers and their team members were accountable not only to multiple units, or teams, across the organization, but also to the crowd. The case material demonstrates that the ecology of devices and their performative struggles create lateral accountability.

    Research limitations/implications
    While recent streams of research suggest that the context of OI (i.e. distributed sources of knowledge for innovation) shifts the unit of analysis of organization design from the individual firm to networks of actors organized on platforms, the authors find that the focal firm still remains a key conceptual parameter in SKM research, which, in turn, makes it difficult to capture the suggested radicality of OI.

    Practical implications
    The authors show, that in practice, the firm has to take into account the performance of the external crowd and at times put resources into its training and education. In heterarchy, distributed authority is assumed to be facilitated through lateral accountability, whereby the traditional principles of vertical authority no longer hold, but rather, managers and their team members can be accountable to multiple units, or teams, across the organization.

    The paper develops a performative theory of openness. OI is a model, strategy and socio-material practice whereby digital designs create an ecology of devices that can enact all kinds of openness. Ultimately, the current paper proposes that SKM and OI theory need to consider how platforms perform relations of accountability beyond the boundaries of the single organization.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages26
    JournalJournal of Strategy and Management
    Issue number2
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Nov 2021
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Accountability
    • open innovation
    • Digital Platforms
    • strategic knowledge management
    • performativity


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