Eric von Hippel's research while affiliated with MIT School of Management and other places

Publications (156)

Article
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Despite recent interest in measuring household activities, investment in household R&D (or household innovation), has not been considered in any of the literatures on national‐accounts‐style measurement. Household R&D is the dedication of household resources to creating a product or process that will generate a service flow in the future; that is a...
Article
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Health care consumers are contributing their skills, money, and time to develop effective solutions that aren't available on the commercial market. Vol. 60, No. 3 Reprint #60313 https://mitsmr.com/2TAUPdN
Article
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Problem-solving by everyday individuals is thought to occur as a two-step process. First, an individual identifies or formulates a problem, followed by entering into a subsequent search to find the best solution. Here, however, we consider an alternative process that everyday individuals may use for solution finding first theorized by von Hippel an...
Article
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All innovations consist of a need paired with a responsive solution - a need-solution pair (von Hippel and von Krogh 2016). Today, technical advances in machine learning techniques for natural language understanding, such as semantic word space models and semantic network analytics, have made it practical to capture descriptions of early-stage, nee...
Article
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This research note reports upon the first survey of household sector innovation in China. Compared to previous survey studies we add two first-of-kind variables and related findings. First, we include data on individual income, a resource-related antecedent of household sector innovation. We find that higher individual incomes are strongly associat...
Chapter
Patients are increasingly able to conceive and develop sophisticated medical devices and services to meet their own needs - often without any help from companies that produce or sell medical products. This “free” patient-driven innovation process enables them to benefit from important advances that are not commercially available. Patient innovation...
Book
Patients are increasingly able to conceive and develop sophisticated medical devices and services to meet their own needs - often without any help from companies that produce or sell medical products. This “free” patient-driven innovation process enables them to benefit from important advances that are not commercially available. Patient innovation...
Article
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Medical doctors occasionally discover potentially valuable new off-label uses for drugs during their clinical practice. They apply these to help their own patients, but often have minimal incentives to invest in diffusing them further. Thus, the benefits that other clinicians might obtain are to some extent an externality from the perspective of th...
Chapter
Due to rapidly falling innovation design and communication costs, users are increasingly able to innovate for themselves without the assistance of producers. Innovation by users and ‘lead users’ may be larger in aggregate than innovation by producers in aggregate, and innovation research, policies and practices are adapting accordingly.
Chapter
Almost 30 years ago, researchers began a systematic study of innovation by end users and user firms. At that time, the phenomenon was generally regarded as a minor oddity. Today, it is clear that innovation by users, generally openly shared, is a very powerful and general phenomenon. It is rapidly growing in extent due to continuing advances in com...
Article
Problem-solving research and formal problem-solving practice begin with the assumption that a problem has been identified or formulated for solving. The problem-solving process then involves a search for a satisfactory or optimal solution to that problem. In contrast, we propose that, in informal problem solving, a need and a solution are often dis...
Article
Problem-solving research and formal problem-solving practice begin with the assumption that a problem has been identified or formulated for solving. The problem-solving process then involves a search for a satisfactory or optimal solution to that problem. In contrast, we propose that, in informal problem solving, a need and a solution are often dis...
Article
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Innovation has traditionally been seen as the province of producers. However, theoretical and empirical research now shows that individual users—consumers—are also a major and increasingly important source of new product and service designs. In this paper, we build a microeconomic model of a market that incorporates demand-side innovation and compe...
Article
When individual consumers develop products for their own use, they in part expect to be rewarded by the use value of what they are creating (utilitarian user motives), and in part expect to be rewarded intrinsically by such things as the fun and learning experience derived from creating it (hedonic user motives). This paper shows a first-of-type st...
Data
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Innovation has traditionally been seen as the province of producers. However, theoretical and empirical research now shows that individual users – consumers – are also a major and increasing source of new products and services. To develop the implications, we build a microeconomic model of a market that incorporates innovation by both users and pro...
Article
In this paper we report upon a first empirical exploration of the relative efficiency of innovation development by product users vs. product producers. In a study of over 50 years of product innovation in the whitewater kayaking field, we find users in aggregate were approximately 3× more efficient at developing important kayaking product innovatio...
Article
Via a questionnaire survey of 546 consumers, we conduct a first-of-type study to explore links between the “Big Five” personality traits and successful accomplishment of three basic innovation process stages: (1) generating an idea for a new product or product improvement; (2) developing a prototype that implements that idea; and (3) engaging in di...
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We provide the first empirical exploration of disease-related innovation by patients and their caregivers. Our aims were to measure the frequency of innovation by these patients and their caregivers, and the improvement in well-being they experienced from using what they have developed. In addition, we explored the diffusion of their innovations to...
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Past user innovation studies have shown that millions of individual users develop new products and services to serve their own needs. However, the overall economic impact of this phenomenon hinges to a large extent on the value that others also gain from adopting those user-developed innovations. It has been argued that the diffusion of user-develo...
Article
Problem-solving research, and formal problem-solving practice as well, begins with the assumption that a problem has been identified or formulated for solving. The problem-solving process then involves a search for a satisfactory or optimal solution to that problem. In contrast, we propose that, in informal problem solving, a need and a solution ar...
Article
When business executives and economists think about whether developing an innovation will be worthwhile, they tend to focus on the economic value of the outcome of the innovation process. “Will we earn enough profit from using or selling X innovation to justify the money and time required to develop it?” is, in effect, the question they ask.
Article
User innovators develop innovations in order to use them. For this reason, the benefits that others might obtain from adopting user innovations will be at least partially an externality for innovating users. This circumstance creates the possibility of a market failure. An innovators’ investment in diffusion can lower adoption costs for many. Howev...
Article
Users frequently develop and modify products for their own use. This paper examines the novelty and utility of products developed by individual users, which depend on the hedonic and utilitarian motives for innovating. The findings are based on two empirical studies. The first study builds on user innovation theory and data from 183 user innovators...
Article
The finding: Innovations developed by individuals who give them away increasingly compete with patent-protected, for-profit innovations in many parts of the economy.
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Please note that gray areas reflect artwork that has been intentionally removed. The substantive content of the ar-ticle appears as originally published.
Article
A central tenant of open innovation is free revealing of the detailed workings of novel products and services, so that others may use them, learn from them, and perhaps improve them as well. We explain that innovators frequently do freely reveal proprietary information and knowledge regarding both information-based products and physical products th...
Article
Individual citizens have been found to be a major source of new product and service innovations of value both to themselves, and to the economy at large. These individuals operate in a little-understood legal environment that we call the innovation wetlands. We show via a review of fundamental rights guaranteed in the US Constitution and elsewhere...
Article
The motivation to innovate is traditionally assumed to be associated with use or sale of the innovation created – the output. In this paper we explore benefits from participation in the innovation process, such as enjoyment and learning, as an additional motivator. Using data from national representative surveys in the UK, US, and Japan, we documen...
Article
It has been argued that users can create innovations and also diffuse them peer-to-peer independent of support or involvement by producers: that “user-only” innovation systems can exist. It is known that users can be incented to innovate via benefits from in-house use. But users’ incentives to invest in diffusion are much less clear: benefits that...
Article
Previous research has explored the range of innovation opportunities for which the three innovation modes of single user, collaborative user, and producer innovation are viable. In that comparison, extensive areas of overlap were found, where two or even three of the three basic innovation modes were simultaneously viable. But viability does not im...
Article
There are two ways to diffuse innovations: for “free” via peer-to-peer channels, and at a price via market channels. Economic scholarship and policymaking have traditionally focused upon marketplace diffusion. In this paper, we also consider peer-to-peer diffusion, and so are able to consider the effects of rivalry and complementarity between these...
Article
Almost 30 years ago, researchers began a systematic study of innovation by end users and user firms. At that time, the phenomenon was generally regarded as a minor oddity. Today, it is clear that innovation by users, generally openly shared, is a very powerful and general phenomenon. It is rapidly growing due to continuing advances in computing and...
Article
Many services can be self-provided. An individual user or a user firm can, for example, choose to do its own accounting - choose to self-provide that service - instead of hiring an accounting firm to provide it. Since users can 'serve themselves' in many cases, it is reasonable to suspect that they can also innovate with respect to the services the...
Article
In a first survey of its type, we measure development and modification of consumer products by product users in a representative sample of 1,173 UK consumers age 18 and older. We estimate this previously unmeasured type of household sector innovation to be quite large: 6.1% of UK consumers—nearly 2.9 million individuals—have engaged in consumer pro...
Article
In this paper we assess the economic viability of innovation by producers relative to two increasingly important alternative models: innovations by single user individuals or firms, and open collaborative innovation. We analyze the design costs and architectures and communication costs associated with each model. We conclude that both innovation by...
Article
The need to economically identify rare subjects within large, poorly mapped search spaces is a frequently encountered problem for social scientists and managers. It is notoriously difficult, for example, to identify “the best new CEO for our company,” or the “best three lead users to participate in our product development project.” Mass screening o...
Article
Empirical studies of innovation have found that end users frequently develop important product and process innovations. Defying conventional wisdom on the negative effects of uncompensated spillovers, innovative users also often openly reveal their innovations to competing users and to manufacturers. Rival users are thus in a position to reproduce...
Article
A detailed survey of 498 high technology small and medium-sized enterprises in the Netherlands shows process innovation by user firms to be common practice. Fifty-four percent of these firms reported developing entirely novel process equipment or software for their own use and/or modifying these, both at significant private expense. Twenty-five per...
Article
Currently, two models of innovation are prevalent in organization science. The "private investment" model assumes returns to the innovator result from private goods and efficient regimes of intellectual property protection. The "collective action" model assumes that under conditions of market failure, innovators collaborate in order to produce a pu...
Article
A detailed survey of 498 high tech SMEs in the Netherlands shows process innovation by user firms to be common practice. Fifty four percent of these relatively small firms reported developing entirely novel process equipment or software for their own use and/or modifying these at significant private expense. Twenty five percent of the user innovati...
Article
Statistical indicators have not kept pace with innovation research. Today, it is well understood that many industrial and consumer products are developed by users, and that many innovations developed at private cost are freely shared. New statistical indicators will empower policymakers to take advantage of the latest research findings in their inn...
Article
In this paper we assess the economic viability of innovation by producers relative to two increasingly important alternative models: innovations by single user individuals or firms, and open collaborative innovation projects. We analyze the design costs and architectures and communication costs associated with each model. We conclude that innovatio...
Article
The contribution of this paper is threefold. Firstly, we measure the incidence of user innovation in a broad sample of firms. Previous work has collected repeated evidence on the frequency of user innovation in a variety of industries and products, but so far its incidence has not been demonstrated in samples of larger business populations. Secondl...
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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to highlight the nature and policy implications of the shift from producer-centred product and service design to innovation by the user, specifically internet-supported collaborative design by user communities. Design/methodology/approach – An overview of the importance of innovation by individual lead users i...
Article
The need to economically identify rare subjects within large, poorly-mapped search spaces is a frequently-encountered problem for social scientists and managers. It is notoriously difficult, for example, to identify the best new CEO for our company, or the best three lead users to participate in our product development project. Mass screening of en...
Article
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A hacker can modify devices, hardware, software or product within reach to satisfy his/her own needs. Hacking is a product development process centered upon prototype innovations developed by users to serve their own needs. The improving quality of computer software and hardware, and improving design capabilities helps users to innovate or modify t...
Article
Proprietary brands are a major vehicle for producer profits: consumers have been shown willing to pay a considerable "brand premium" for a branded product over an otherwise identical unbranded product. Prior literature has implicitly assumed that only producers develop brands. In this paper, we report that user communities also can and do develop s...
Article
In this paper we propose that norms-based intellectual property (IP) systems exist today and are an important complement to or substitute for law-based IP systems. Norms-based IP systems, as we define them, operate entirely on the basis of implicit social norms that are held in common by members of a given community. Within that community, they off...
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The authors consider the advantages and limitations of self-management tools used for treating chronic illness.
Article
Innovation development, production, distribution and consumption networks can be built up horizontally—with actors consisting only of innovation users (more precisely, “user/self-manufacturers”). Some open source software projects are examples of such networks, and examples can be found in the case of physical products as well. In this article, we...
Article
Our annual survey of ideas and trends that will make an impact on business: Duncan J. Watts contends that ordinary people, not "influentials:" drive social epidemics. Yoshito Hori predicts that Japan's young entrepreneurs could outshine those in China and India. Frederic Dalsace, Coralie Damay, and David Dubois propose brands that- like Harry Potte...
Article
Presents a series of studies showing that the sources of innovation vary greatly; possible sources include innovation users, suppliers of innovation-related components, and product manufacturers. These types of roles are known as functional areas. Specific areas of innovation are marked by having innovators predominantly in one specific functional...
Article
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In this paper we model the pathways commonly traversed as user innovations are transformed into commercial products. First, one or more users recognize a new set of design possibilities and begin to innovate. They then join into communities, motivated by the increased efficiency of collective innovation. User-manufacturers then emerge, using high-v...
Conference Paper
In order to find ideas for leading edge innovations, the lead user method recently gained much interest. A very important step in this method is the identification of lead users. Recently, there is a notable switch towards a technique we term "pyramiding". Instead of selecting the most appropriate users from a large but finite sample ("screening"),...
Article
Breaking with many established assumptions about how innovation ought to work, open source software projects offer eye-opening examples of novel innovation practices for students and practitioners in many fields. In this article we briefly review existing research on the open source phenomenon and discuss the utility of open source software researc...
Conference Paper
The purpose of this study is to explore an alternative mechanism of problem solving that focuses on broadcasting problems to diverse and peripheral problem solvers, what I call broadcast search. Broadcasting problems is a radical departure from traditional problem solving as it involves problem holders engaging in as little problem-solving as possi...
Article
A central tenant of open innovation is free revealing of the detailed workings of novel products and services, so that others may use them, learn from them, and perhaps improve them as well. We explain that innovators frequently do freely reveal proprietary information and knowledge regarding both information-based products and physical products th...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: To determine the role of clinicians in the discovery of off-label use of prescription drugs approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Data Sources. Micromedex Healthcare Series was used to identify new uses of new molecular entities approved by the FDA in 1998, literature from January 1999-December 2003 was acces...
Book
Innovation is rapidly becoming democratized. Users, aided by improvements in computer and communications technology, increasingly can develop their own new products and services. These innovating users—both individuals and firms—often freely share their innovations with others, creating user-innovation communities and a rich intellectual commons. I...
Article
Les techniques traditionnelles de génération d'idées, fondées sur les contributions de clients, consistent généralement à collecter de l'information sur des besoins en nouveaux produits à partir d'un ensemble de clients typiques ou alors choisis de façon aléatoire. L'approche faisant appel aux « utilisateurs pionniers » s'en démarque. Elle consiste...
Article
Firms and governments are increasingly interested in learning to exploit the value of lead user innovations for commercial advantage. Improvements to lead user theory are needed to inform and guide these efforts. In this paper we empirically test and confirm the basic tenants of lead user theory. We also discover some new refinements and related pr...
Article
Almost 30 years ago, researchers began a systematic study of innovation by end users and user firms. At that time, the phenomenon was generally regarded as a minor oddity. Today, it is clear that user-centered innovation is a very powerful and general phenomenon. It is rapidly growing due to continuing advances in computing and communication techno...
Article
In a study of innovations developed by mountain bikers, we find that user- innovators almost always utilize "local" information - information already in their possession or generated by themselves - both to determine the need for and to develop the solutions for their innovations. We argue that this finding fits the economic incentives operating on...
Article
The literature on new goods and social welfare generally assumes that innovations are developed by manufacturers. But innovation by users has been found to also be an important part of innovative activity in the economy. In this paper we explore the impact of users as a source of innovation on product diversity, innovation, and welfare. We examine...
Article
Full-text available
all had a helpful hand in shaping this work. But, the views expressed and the defects that remain are ours. SUMMARY We present an original modeling tool that can be used to study the social mechanisms by which individual software developers' efforts are allocated within large and complex open source projects. The dynamical agent-based model is firs...
Article
This special issue of Research Policy is dedicated to new research on the phenomenon of open source software development. Open Source, because of its novel modes of operation and robust functioning in the marketplace, poses novel and fundamental questions for researchers in many fields, ranging from the economics of innovation to the principles by...
Article
Innovation development, production, distribution and consumption networks can be built up horizontally Â€Ó with actors consisting only of innovation users (more precisely, "user/self-manufacturers"). "Free" and "open source" software projects are examples of such networks, and examples can be found in the case of physical products as well. User inn...
Article
Currently, two models of innovation are prevalent in organization science. The "private investment" model assumes returns to the innovator result from private goods and efficient regimes of intellectual property protection. The "collective action" model assumes that under conditions of market failure, innovators collaborate in order to produce a pu...
Article
In a study of innovations developed by mountain bikers, we find that user-innovators almost always utilize "local" information - information already in their possession or generated by themselves - to assess the need for and to develop solutions for their innovations. We argue that this finding fits the economic incentives operating on users. Local...
Article
The "lead user construct" was developed to preferentially identify commercially attractive innovation-related information developed by users of products and services. In this research, we use data drawn from users of Apache, an open source software project, to assess the association between each of the two components of the lead user construct and...
Article
Manufacturers customarily provide only a few product variants to address the average needs of users in the major segments of markets they serve. When user needs are highly heterogeneous, this approach leaves many seriously dissatisfied. One solution is to enable users to modify products on their own using “innovation toolkits.” We explore the effec...