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Eric von Hippel

Eric von Hippel, an influential scholar and economist, has contributed significantly to the understanding of user-driven innovation. He introduced the concept of “lead users,” which are individuals or companies who are early adopters of new technologies or processes and actively contribute to the improvement of products they use.

Lead users make up around 10-15% of the user base in a given domain, and they are characterized by their advanced understanding of the technology and their willingness to modify it to suit their needs. These users are often found in industries such as extreme sports equipment, surgical equipment, and software. They are motivated to innovate because they have much to gain from making improvements in the products they use.

Von Hippel’s theory of innovation revolves around two main approaches: “do it yourself” and “let others do it.” The “do it yourself” approach involves bearing the costs of organization, equipment, and other resources necessary for innovation. In contrast, the “let others do it” approach relies on external parties for innovation, thus incurring costs associated with contracts, monitoring, and specification.

In terms of policy adaptation to user innovation, von Hippel suggests that intellectual property rights (IPR) should not be granted if the user or firm innovated without having the IPR. This would encourage more open collaboration and innovation among users and firms.

Von Hippel’s work differs from Yochai Benkler’s in that it does not specifically focus on commons-based peer production (CBPP). Instead, his main idea is that companies should recognize and harness the value of users who are interested in their projects by integrating them into the innovation process.

Overall, Eric von Hippel’s research on lead users and user-driven innovation has provided valuable insights into the ways companies can benefit from involving users in product development and improvement. By embracing the potential of user innovation, companies can unlock new opportunities for growth and success in their industries.

Page last modified: 2023-05-06 16:44:40