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Democratizing Innovation

by Eric von Hippel

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271371,856 (3.65)None
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. In Democratizing Innovation, Eric von Hippel looks closely at this emerging system of user-centered innovation. He explains why and when users find it profitable to develop new products and services for themselves, and why it often pays users to reveal their innovations freely for the use of all. The trend toward democratized innovation can be seen in software and information products—most notably in the free and open-source software movement—but also in physical products. Von Hippel's many examples of user innovation in action range from surgical equipment to surfboards to software security features. He shows that product and service development is concentrated among "lead users," who are ahead on marketplace trends and whose innovations are often commercially attractive. Von Hippel argues that manufacturers should redesign their innovation processes and that they should systematically seek out innovations developed by users. He points to businesses—the custom semiconductor industry is one example—that have learned to assist user-innovators by providing them with toolkits for developing new products. User innovation has a positive impact on social welfare, and von Hippel proposes that government policies, including R&D subsidies and tax credits, should be realigned to eliminate biases against it. The goal of a democratized user-centered innovation system, says von Hippel, is well worth striving for. An electronic version of this book is available under a Creative Commons license.… (more)

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great book about the changing and increasingly collaborative nature of innovation. book shows overview of tools and criteria for developers and manufacturers to enable end-users to co-develop products and services. ( )
  hennis | Jul 30, 2007 |
A French chef whose restaurant is given an extra “star” in the famed Michelin Guide (on a scale of 1 to 5) can expect a flurry of new patrons, prestige and profits in the coming year. Similarly, restaurants that “lose” a star can see sales drop as much as 50%. Since there is so much money riding on the quality of food served in top French restaurants, why aren’t the recipes and food preparation techniques used by great French chefs protected by copyrights, patents or trade secret law? The answer, as explored in a fascinating paper by Emmanuelle Fauchart and Eric von Hippel, is that the social norms of the culinary professionals are a more effective tool for protecting the “proprietary” interests of top-flight chefs. The commons is the governance regime of choice for protecting the value of great French food.

Von Hippel is the MIT professor who has long studied user-driven innovation, most recently in his book, Democratizing Innovation. (See my earlier post on this book.) Fauchart teaches at the Conservatoire des Arts and Metiers, in Paris. After sending out a detailed questionnaire to 485 French chefs who had been given some form of recognition by the Michelin Guide, Fauchart and von Hippel studied the 104 responses and conducted ten in-person interviews. In their paper, “Norms-based Intellectual Property Systems: The Case of French Chefs,” the researchers identified three strong social norms that assure that the culinary commons works effectively.
  cued100prof | Sep 9, 2006 |
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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. In Democratizing Innovation, Eric von Hippel looks closely at this emerging system of user-centered innovation. He explains why and when users find it profitable to develop new products and services for themselves, and why it often pays users to reveal their innovations freely for the use of all. The trend toward democratized innovation can be seen in software and information products—most notably in the free and open-source software movement—but also in physical products. Von Hippel's many examples of user innovation in action range from surgical equipment to surfboards to software security features. He shows that product and service development is concentrated among "lead users," who are ahead on marketplace trends and whose innovations are often commercially attractive. Von Hippel argues that manufacturers should redesign their innovation processes and that they should systematically seek out innovations developed by users. He points to businesses—the custom semiconductor industry is one example—that have learned to assist user-innovators by providing them with toolkits for developing new products. User innovation has a positive impact on social welfare, and von Hippel proposes that government policies, including R&D subsidies and tax credits, should be realigned to eliminate biases against it. The goal of a democratized user-centered innovation system, says von Hippel, is well worth striving for. An electronic version of this book is available under a Creative Commons license.

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