The wicked problem of commercial value creation in open data ecosystems: Policy guidelines for governments

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Creating commercial value through open data use in open data ecosystems is a wicked problem. This problem is characterized by a lack of specific formulation, complex interactions amongst a variety of stakeholders, a lack of criteria determining a satisfactory solution, including what constitutes `value', and uncertain outcomes. Wicked problems cannot be solved by only considering part of the problem. Yet, open data efforts all too often focus mainly on open data publication and neglect the use of the data; while it is the use of data (not just publication) that generates value. This paper addresses the question: Which policy guidelines can support commercial value creation from open data? This study first elicits characteristics of wicked problems for studying the wicked problem of commercial open data value creation. Subsequently, we use the wicked problem characteristics to study open data innovation in two countries and consult experts. This work results in eliciting four policy guidelines that can help to derive greater commercial value from open data ecosystems. The four policy guidelines show that governmental open data policies for commercial value should pay attention to: 1) increasing the knowledge of open data ecosystem stakeholders about contextual factors influencing open data use and commercial value creation, 2) ensuring the availability and quality of five types of resources: open data, open Information Technology (IT), internal IT, knowledge and governance, 3) cooperating between businesses and citizens to create alliances, and 4) reducing the negative effects of value creation by companies in the open data ecosystem. These policy guidelines are expected to stimulate commercial value creation with open data use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-236
JournalInformation Polity
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Open data
  • commercial
  • companies
  • value creation
  • wicked problem
  • ecosystem


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