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Democratizing Innovation [Hardcover]

Eric von Hippel

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Book Description

April 1 2005
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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1 edition (April 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262002744
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262002745
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 16 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,349,704 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Von Hippel presents a persuasive case for the benefits of encouraging lead users to innovate and a truly intriguing look at what they’ve contributed to the world so far".
BizEd

"This is a book that should be required reading for every person in every automotive company who is involved in product development, be they marketers or engineers, manufacturers or managers. It is that important."
Automotive Design and Production

"[von Hippel] shows that, in fields ranging from surgical instruments and software to kite surfing, customers often come up with new products of new ways of using old ones. Some companies encourage their customers to modify their merchandise. Others, however, do not: when a devoted user of Aibo, Sony's robot dog, wrote applicatons that would allow the Aibo to dance to music, Sony threatened the man with a lawsuit."
James Surowiecki, New Yorker

"[von Hippel's] book looks at why users want customized products, why it is more advantageous for them rather than the manufacturer to make the changes, why they freely share their innovations with other, and the need for government to encourage user innovaton by refining patent and intellectual protection legislation. It’s a fascinating, little explored trend that he covers thoroughly. Although his book is written in academic style, it offers lots of examples and provides an understanding of an important innovation in the world of innovation."
Globe and Mail

"von Hippel has brought an important issue to the fore."
CIO Insight

"The fruits of his labor are nicely summarized in Democratizing Innovation, a useful primer on what he calls 'user-centered innovation.'... Despite its brevity, Democratizing Innovation is a heavyweight book, written with the lightness of touch you might expect from a regular contributor to the journal Management Science. But where innovation comes from and how value gets created are heavy questions for all companies in all industries. No innovation means no value added, and ultimately no profits."
The Financial Times

"In a concise 200 pages, von Hippel traces the empirical studies on user innovation, determining that between 10 and 40 percent of users engage in developing or modifying products. These 'lead users' are ahead of the curve and often create improvements that other users will want to share."
Harvard Business School Working Knowledge

"The book puts its thesis well, with plenty of examples.
Financial Review (Australia)

"Still, new patterns are emerging in some scattered yet suggestive areas of product design, studied by management expert, Eric von Hippel in Democratizing Innovation. 'Lead users' (the most zealous windsurfers who get new boards first and modify them, the most advanced builders experimenting with new materials like stressed-skin panels) often suggest or even create useful innovations that manufacturers adopt."
San Francisco Chronicle

"Eric von Hippel has written a genuinely important book on innovation. Combining a wealth of case studies and data with a clear and systematically developed theoretical framework, Democratizing Innovation turns much of how we think about innovation economics on its head. Von Hippel has provided us with a fascinating book that will challenge innovation theorists and businesses alike."
—Yochai Benkler, Professor of Law, Yale Law School

"Every manager concerned with growth and innovation should read this book. It explains how companies can replace a broken innovation paradigm with refreshingly effective and efficient methods for finding new growth products and markets."
—Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard Business School, author of The Innovator's Dilemma

"This is an important and original perspective on the neglected role of the user in the innovation process. Von Hippel extends his pathbreaking research on lead-user innovation by showing the economic benefits gained by opening new-product development to the natural insights and inventiveness of the market. No one managing product development in established or emerging industries can afford to ignore the power and value of involving users in the innovation process."
—Andrew Hargadon, author of How Breakthroughs Happen: The Surprising Truth about How Companies Innovate

"Von Hippel has written the essential 21st-century handbook on innovation. Business leaders who rely on organic growth will find his concepts and techniques extremely valuable."
—Roger Lacey, Staff Vice President of eBusiness and Corporate Planning and Strategy, 3M

"The guru of customer-centered innovation blazes new ground in this masterpiece. He shows managers how to get the most out of a world where customers and communities pioneer new ideas and reconfigure what they buy. Other books tell you that co-creating innovations with customers is important—Von Hippel tells you how to make it happen."
—Philip Anderson, INSEAD Alumni Fund Professor of Entrepreneurship, and Director, International Centre for Entrepreneurship

"Eric von Hippel has a penchant for identifying important aspects of technological innovation that run contrary to conventional wisdom and to the thrust of conventional scholarship. His work on the important role that users, rather than suppliers, play in the advance of technology casts the process in a new light. This book is an intellectual feast."
—Richard R. Nelson, George Blumenthal Professor of International and Public Affairs, Business, and Law, Columbia University

"Democratizing Innovation presents pathbreaking research to explain a major paradigm shift in innovation: users are displacing manufacturers to become the dominant force of innovation in many fields. I strongly recommend this brilliant, well-written book to researchers and managers who are passionate about the nature of successful innovation - and how to achieve it!"
—Georg von Krogh, Director, Institute of Management, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

"Von Hippel provides us with the Rosetta Stone to innovation in the Internet age! He marshals a wide range of research findings to document and explain the major shift to user-centered innovation that is now well underway. He also shows managers and policymakers how they can adapt most effectively."
—Nikolaus Franke, Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration

About the Author

Eric von Hippel is Professor of Management of Innovation and Head of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Group at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is the author of The Sources of Innovation.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When I say that innovation is being democratized, I mean that users of products and services-both firms and individual consumers-are increasingly able to innovate for themselves. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than another open innovation book April 9 2005
By Frank Piller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a wonderful book beyond the typical managerial how-to-do checklists. This is the reason why I recommend this book especially to managers and practitioners (innovation management researchers will read the book anyway as Eric von Hippel is one of the leading scholars in this field). Managers may find the book, on a first glance, academic, full with tables, numbers and references. But von Hippel is driven throughout his book by the motivation to present not only a fascinating new idea, but to show that this idea is already a reality and that there is empirical evidence that his concepts provide value for companies and customers. This is the main difference to other books in the area which present various fuzzy weak signals but no proof.

Von Hippel's book goes also beyond the open innovation idea of Chesbrough and others as mentioned by the first reviewer. Chesbrough names a lot of important actors in the innovation process, but neglects the - in my opinion - most important one: the customer or user of the innovation. Von Hippel starts exactly here. His approach is focused on the role of users and customers for the innovation process. In this regard, he builds on his earlier word of the 1970s and 1980s, but has a new story to tell: that user innovation is not only changing the corporate innovation process but also the nature of value creation: If manufacturing is outsourced to Asia, and users take over innovation (and perform this process superior to internal innovation processes), what is left for the corporation?
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars State-of-the-art May 5 2005
By Nils Eule - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The book comprises an outstanding publication in the field of innovation management. It has the potential of becoming the central textbook in the field of user-centered innovation which is an increasingly important research area.

The objective of this book is to provide a state-of-the-art overview of research in the field of user innovation. Also, it aims to show how the different (so far more or less isolated) aspects are related. These are ambitious goals.

From my perspective, the manuscript fully meets them. It offers a profound, concise and easy to read overview of the research done in the past decade. Its outstanding quality is that it manages to relate different aspects in an innovative way and shows the rationale of the research field. It delivers new insights even to a researcher active in this field for some years now.

The book it interesting for a broad audience. It is stimulating even for a specialist in this field. But of course, the main audience is much broader. It should be of interest for scholars and students in the fields of innovation management, new product development, market research, economics and other. It will be of interest also for practitioners and policy makers in the corresponding areas.

I really like the many easy-to-understand examples and its conciseness. One does not necessarily have to have an understanding of the research field before in order to learn from the book (and enjoy it!).
35 of 44 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars the editor was asleep March 18 2005
By S. M. Felton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have been for most of my working career a "practitioner," that is someone in business struggling to out-innovate current or future competition. Von Hipple's earlier book, "The Sources of Innovation," back in 1988, was a pathfinding work and got many of us to look more closely at "lead custoners and users" for new ideas and innovations. They were a great source!

In recent years, a new concept, "open market innovation," has helped many of us go beyond our corporate walls to the outside world for new ideas and innovations in designated fields, primarily using the Internet to help cast our net widely.

Proctor & Gamble, for example, help to pioneer this concept, starting in 2000. In 2003, Henry Chesbrough's book, "Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology," went into some detail telling us how to use the concept to improve the flow of worthwhile ideas. His book was followed by C. K. Prahalad, Venkat Ramaswamy's work,

"The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers.

Yet, for some reason von Hipple makes no mention of the Open Market Innovation concept to help cast a net to early adopters and way, way beyond. I wonder why? Certainly, he's not that far out of touch.

But more fundamentally, von Hipple's book is too academic - perhaps written more for an academic audience than practitioners who should be interested in applying his ideas in practice. Perhaps his editor was asleep, or couldn't quite figure out what he was trying to say.

In spite of this drawback, I recomment his book. Perhaps senior executives will give a copy to a junior worker and ask him/her to translate it and recommend what their company should do.

Sam Felton
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great ideas on innovation March 28 2006
By SDM Matt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is a great read, especially for someone who has not been taught about user innovation and who questions the open source business model. Von Hippel is a pioneer when it comes to user innovation. If you thought that companies come up with winning ideas, or that the only way to make any money on a great idea is to patent it then this book will open your eyes to a much greater world. The concepts of free revealing (vs. IP) and of lead user (vs. manufacturer) innovation are great. It goes deeping into the idea that information is sticky and cannot be communicated from users to engineers very easily, even in consumer focus groups. Also discussed is the opportunity to create a toolkit to allow users to do the development work for you. This book is truly outstanding.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Needed more editing Dec 12 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The concept behind this book is exciting. The first few chapters were well worth the read. Then it felt like a diet book where it is making the same point again and again to prove there is something behind the theory.

What this book is: A good description as to how the customer/innovator symbiotic relationship propels inovation.

What this book isn't: I just didn't need to be as long as it is. The point could have been made in 2/3s of the length. The repetition made it a far more academic book than the other writing style.

This book is one of those where it is worth reading the first third to half and then the final chapter. It is worth reading, but not every page.

Neil

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