I spent a hundred years in grad school and basically live half my life in academic culture, so I know how closed scientific inquiry traditionally is. But new open source models are changing the model, opening it globally and perhaps making it more efficient as well. Peter Turner over at his Open Source blog highlights a new study—The Value of Openness in Scientific Inquiry—that makes the case for this. It’s by Karim R. Lakhani, Lars Bo Jeppesen, Peter A. Lohse & Jill A. Panetta from the Harvard Business School, Copenhagen Business School, and InnoCentive.com.
Let me quote from it:
“We present evidence of the efficacy of problem solving when disclosing problem information. The method’s application to 166 discrete scientific problems from the research laboratories of 26 firms is illustrated. Problems were disclosed to over 80,000 independent scientists from over 150 countries.
We show that disclosure of problem information to a large group of outside solvers is an effective means of solving scientific problems. The approach solved one-third of a sample of problems that large and well-known R & D-intensive firms had been unsuccessful in solving internally. Problem-solving success was found to be associated with the ability to attract specialized solvers with range of diverse scientific interests. Furthermore, successful solvers solved problems at the boundary or outside of their fields of expertise, indicating a transfer of knowledge from one field to others.”
The InnoCentive model, of course, matches scientists around the world with problems offered up by global corporations.
We now have two models for creativity: social networking and individual genius. Which suits your culture?