Inclusive and collaborative digital development

Digital development is largely driven by open source and open innovation ecosystems, where the exchange of knowledge, ideas and resources takes place in collaborative effort in open innovation processes that give rise to emerging digital technology. Participation in open innovation ecosystems is significant for managing continuous change, the ability to exchange knowledge and ideas across organisational boundaries to iteratively develop and apply emerging digital technologies. The project aims to create the conditions to collaboratively explore, experiment and participate in the development of open digital technology to leverage innovations and synergies that emerge in the digital ecosystem.  The purpose is to accelerate the digital transformation and broadening current perspective on innovation to enable inclusive and collaborative digital development.

Project name:Inclusive and collaborative digital development – Phase 1
Start date:2023-02-06
End date:2025-12-31
Financier:The Swedish Transport Administration
Executor:Clear Byte


Digital development is largely driven by open source code and participation in open innovation ecosystems, mapping shows that 92 percent1 on average of the software developed today contains open source components and libraries. For technology companies, participation in open innovation ecosystems is an integral part of the innovation strategy2 and in many cases a prerequisite for being competitive3. To survive in a digitalised market that is constantly changing, businesses need a distributed innovation process and the ability to effectively collaborate with a heterogeneous group of actors in the digital ecosystem to capture and apply digital technology. This requires that the business can control knowledge flows across organisational boundaries and harmonize its own objectives and identify synergies with partners in the digital ecosystem. Open innovation is a well-established innovation theory which is defined as; distributed innovation processes to purposefully control knowledge flows across organizational boundaries with monetary and non-monetary means that are in line with each organization’s objectives4.

Open source code and innovation ecosystems are an inseparable part of the digital ecosystem, where knowledge exchange and ideas arise in collaborative partnership through open innovation processes when developmental digital technology. The collaborative partnership gives rise to innovation and synergy effects as a result of a heterogeneous group of actors from different industries and countries; ensures adaptability, quality, security and interoperability when developing software. Successful open source projects are based on meritocracy, trust, inclusive culture and transparency with a common goal to build software of the highest possible quality and security that makes up much of today’s digital infrastructure and is used in mission-critical systems.

The project is a follow-up of the feasibility study; Inclusive digital societal development and participation in open innovation processes carried out in 2021-2022. The preliminary study identified, among other things, that collective ownership, shared goals, decentralised work methodology, culture and interest in developing software based on the latest technology give rise to innovation and synergies that are difficult to achieve with contractual relationships and procurement. This is the reason why digital development is largely driven by open innovation ecosystems where emerging open technologies are made available continuously. The problem of achieving strategic IT innovation through contractual relationships and outsourcing is referred to in the research literature as the “innovation outsourcing paradox”5 and is a clear indicator to businesses that tries to digital transform the organisation solely through procurement of proprietary standardized system solutions and contractual relationships.

Project goal

The project intends to explore which abilities, knowledge and structures at operational, tactical and strategic level that needs to be developed to enable participation in the open innovation ecosystem with the intention of speeding up the digital transformation of the organisation. Participation in the ecosystem is important for managing continuous change, the ability to exchange knowledge and ideas across organisational boundaries to develop and apply emerging digital technology and enable iterative development of digital infrastructure, standards and informationssystems.

For a traditional organisation like the Swedish Transport Administration which has waterfall-based processes, long lead times and procurement procedures, this means other types of collaboration structures, capabilities and operational culture need to be developed and established in order to manage constant change and participation in the collaborative partnership that characterises the open innovation ecosystem. Transition from a mostly internal innovation process to a cross-organisational exchange of knowledge, ideas and creative use of resources in distributed iterative development processes with a heterogeneous actor group, represents a major challenge for traditional sectors and organisations.

In order to support this change, capabilities, structures and practices are explored in parallel with ordinary activities that can lead to increased visibility and improved traceability in development, testing, integration, bug management, et cetera when develop, maintain and participate in open source projects. The objective of the experimental introduction of open source methodology is to create the conditions to manage both inbound and outbound innovation processes through purposeful management and coordination of participation in open innovation ecosystems. The efficacy of theories and practices of the methodology will be validated on a suitable IT-based development initiative at the Swedish Transport Administration.

Last Updated on 2023-11-27

  2. Dahlander, L., 2007. “Penguin in a newsuit: a tale of how de novo entrants emerged to harness free and open source software communities,”. Ind. Corp. Chang. 16:5, 913–943.
  3. Teece, David J. ‘Explicating Dynamic Capabilities: The Nature and Microfoundations of (Sustainable) Enterprise Performance’. Strategic Management Journal 28, no. 13 (December 2007): 1319–50
  4. Chesbrough, H., & Bogers, M. (2014). Explicating open innovation: Clarifying an emerging paradigm for understanding innovation. New Frontiers in Open Innovation.
  5. Oshri, Ilan, Julia Kotlarsky, and Alexandra Gerbasi. ‘Strategic Innovation through Outsourcing: The Role of Relational and Contractual Governance’. Journal of Strategic Information Systems 24, no. 3 (2015): 203–16