The current proposal addresses inbound, outbound and coupled open innovation (OI) strategies as a means to gain competitive advantage in local and global markets. It investigates factors leading to the OI strategies, the implementation of the strategies (OI partner search and selection process) and the impact of OI strategies on innovation and economic performance in IT business services. The original definition of open innovation highlights both exploitation of internalized and externalized knowledge and technologies. However, so far the academic literature has concentrated on the various forms of inbound open innovation leaving aside outbound and coupled strategies. The current proposal aims to tackle all the three aspects at once. There are good reasons to assume why open innovation strategies might be a viable option for the IT service enterprises. Firstly, cumulative nature of the innovations in the sector calls for knowledge of previous sequential and incremental advances in technology. State of the technology is easily accessed via formal and informal interactions and exchanges within the value chain. Secondly, IT service firms provide technology and system integration to other activities. In order to ensure the interoperability requirement exchanges with actors along the value chain is a requisite. Thirdly, IT and IT services are characterized by fast technological development and declining prices over time both of which contribute to the fast pace of competition in the sector. Access to broader technology bases through inter-firm cooperation or alliances supports companies in a situation where they need to redefine and reposition themselves in the market in terms of technology. In addition, cross-sectoral innovating is needed for developing bundles of high added value services that will support repositioning in the competitive market. Due to the sector’s vital role as an innovation catalyst in other economic activities and the peaks and troughs in growth it has witnessed over the years, it is now common place to follow and rank the high-growth innovative IT enterprises. Given the unevenness in innovation and economic performance in the sector, part of the analysis will be focusing on the IT leaders as it may enable drawing lessons for IT enterprises with weaker performance and for the rest of the economy.