Free Innovation

Free Innovation

by Eric von Hippel

Hardcover

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Overview

A leading innovation scholar explains the growing phenomenon and impact of free innovation, in which innovations developed by consumers and given away “for free. ”

In this book, Eric von Hippel, author of the influential Democratizing Innovation , integrates new theory and research findings into the framework of a “free innovation paradigm. ” Free innovation, as he defines it, involves innovations developed by consumers who are self-rewarded for their efforts, and who give their designs away “for free. ” It is an inherently simple grassroots innovation process, unencumbered by compensated transactions and intellectual property rights.

Free innovation is already widespread in national economies and is steadily increasing in both scale and scope. Today, tens of millions of consumers are collectively spending tens of billions of dollars annually on innovation development. However, because free innovations are developed during consumers' unpaid, discretionary time and are given away rather than sold, their collective impact and value have until very recently been hidden from view. This has caused researchers, governments, and firms to focus too much on the Schumpeterian idea of innovation as a producer-dominated activity.

Free innovation has both advantages and drawbacks. Because free innovators are self-rewarded by such factors as personal utility, learning, and fun, they often pioneer new areas before producers see commercial potential. At the same time, because they give away their innovations, free innovators generally have very little incentive to invest in diffusing what they create, which reduces the social value of their efforts.

The best solution, von Hippel and his colleagues argue, is a division of labor between free innovators and producers, enabling each to do what they do best. The result will be both increased producer profits and increased social welfare—a gain for all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262035217
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 11/18/2016
Series: The MIT Press
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 566,814
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Eric von Hippel, the T. Wilson (1953) Professor of Technological Innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management, is a leading research scholar on the economics and management of free, open, and distributed innovation.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

1 Overview of Free Innovation 1

2 Evidence for Free Innovation 19

3 Viability Zones for Free Innovation 37

4 Pioneering by Free Innovators 53

5 Diffusion Shortfall in Free Innovation 65

6 Division of Labor between Free Innovators and Producers 77

7 Tightening the Loop between Free Innovators and Producers 89

8 The Broad Scope of Free Innovation 101

9 Personality Traits of Successful Free Innovators 115

10 Preserving Free Innovators' Legal Rights 127

11 Next Steps for Free Innovation Research and Practice 141

Appendix 1 Household Sector Innovation Questionnaire 155

Appendix 2 Modeling Free Innovation's Impacts on Markets and Welfare 163

References 189

Index 215

What People are Saying About This

Yochai Benkler

Free Innovation lays out the central role that individuals and groups interacting socially, without prices or property, play in exploring the very frontiers of innovation.Innovation is the most important aspect of growth, and Eric von Hippel is one of the handful of scholars in the world who have ever had a genuinely original and fundamental point to make about it.No one who hasn't read this book can claim to be serious about innovation research, policy, or practice.

Dietmar Harhoff

Eric von Hippel brilliantly describes a new innovation paradigm for the internet age. Free Innovation will have a strong and lasting effect on research, management, and public policy.

Jim Euchner

Companies that find ways to work with free innovators will develop better products and services and also create more loyal customers. Eric von Hippel describes, with powerful frameworks and rich examples, what is happening in the real world and how corporations can profit.

Bernadette Piacek-Llanes

The invaluable insights and solutions described in Free Innovation must be recognized and supported by all consumer goods producers serious about sustainable growth. Our company uses these methods with great commercial success.

Endorsement

The invaluable insights and solutions described in Free Innovation must be recognized and supported by all consumer goods producers serious about sustainable growth. Our company uses these methods with great commercial success.—Bernadette Piacek-Llanes, Vice President of Innovation, Technology, and Quality, General Mills; MIT Innovation Lab

From the Publisher

Free Innovation lays out the central role that individuals and groups interacting socially, without prices or property, play in exploring the very frontiers of innovation. Innovation is the most important aspect of growth, and Eric von Hippel is one of the handful of scholars in the world who have ever had a genuinely original and fundamental point to make about it. No one who hasn't read this book can claim to be serious about innovation research, policy, or practice.

Yochai Benkler , Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies, Harvard Law School

Free Innovation is a tour de force. It is a continuation of a long stream of important scholarship by Eric von Hippel that puts the proactive role of users and communities center stage in the innovation process. Eric has been ahead of his time as the internet economy is making his frameworks increasingly relevant in the global system of innovation.

David Teece , Faculty Director, Institute for Business Innovation, University of California, Berkeley

Eric von Hippel is a visionary innovation scholar who has helped policymakers around the world understand modern innovation processes much more deeply. In Free Innovation he offers a powerful and effective template to increase the welfare of nations through more sophisticated and relevant free and user innovation policies. I predict it will have a strong impact both within the European Union and worldwide.

Carlos Moedas , European Union Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation

Eric von Hippel brilliantly describes a new innovation paradigm for the internet age. Free Innovation will have a strong and lasting effect on research, management, and public policy.

Dietmar Harhoff , Director, Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, München

Companies that find ways to work with free innovators will develop better products and services and also create more loyal customers. Eric von Hippel describes, with powerful frameworks and rich examples, what is happening in the real world and how corporations can profit.

Jim Euchner , Vice President, Global Innovation, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company; MIT Innovation Lab

The invaluable insights and solutions described in Free Innovation must be recognized and supported by all consumer goods producers serious about sustainable growth. Our company uses these methods with great commercial success.

Bernadette Piacek-Llanes , Vice President of Innovation, Technology, and Quality, General Mills; MIT Innovation Lab

David Teece

Free Innovation is a tour de force. It is a continuation of a long stream of important scholarship by Eric von Hippel that puts the proactive role of users and communities center stage in the innovation process. Eric has been ahead of his time as the internet economy is making his frameworks increasingly relevant in the global system of innovation.

Carlos Moedas

Eric von Hippel is a visionary innovation scholar who has helped policymakers around the world understand modern innovation processes much more deeply.In Free Innovation he offers a powerful and effective template to increase the welfare of nations through more sophisticated and relevant free and user innovation policies.I predict it will have a strong impact both within the European Union and worldwide.

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