Article publicat a l’Harvard Business School el 7 de febrer de 2007

Executive Summary:

Scientists are generally rewarded for discoveries they make as individuals or in small teams. While the sharing of information in science is an ideal, it is seldom practiced. In this research, Lakhani et al. used an approach common to open source software communities—which rely intensely on collaboration—and opened up a set of 166 scientific problems from the research laboratories of twenty-six firms to over 80,000 independent scientists. The outside scientists were able to solve one-third of the problems that the research laboratories were unable to solve internally. Key concepts include:

  • Opening up problem information to a large group of outsiders can yield innovative technical solutions, increase the probability of success in science programs, and ultimately boost research productivity.
  • Open source software communities provide a model for improving the process of solving scientific problems.
  • Outsiders can see problems with fresh eyes; in this study, problems were solved by independent scientists with expertise at the boundary of or even outside their field.
  • Achieving true openness and collaboration will require change in the mindsets of both scientists and lab leadership.

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