Sources of Innovation
E von Hippel, 1988. Sources of Innovation. New York NY: Oxford University Press
221 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2016 Last revised: 4 Feb 2017
Date Written: November 29, 2016
It has long been assumed that product innovations are typically developed by product manufacturers. Because this assumption deals with the basic matter of who the innovator is, it has inevitably had a major impact on innovation-related research, on firms' management of research and development, and on government innovation policy. However, it now appears that this basic assumption is often wrong.
In this book I begin by presenting a series of studies showing that the sources of innovation vary greatly. In some fields, innovation users develop most innovations. In others, suppliers of innovation-related components and materials are the typical sources of innovation. In still other fields, conventional wisdom holds and product manufacturers are indeed the typical innovators. Next, I explore why this variation in the functional sources of innovation occurs and how it might be predicted. Finally, I propose and test some implications of replacing a manufacturer-as-innovator assumption with a view of the innovation process as predictably distributed across users, manufacturers, suppliers, and others.
Keywords: innovation, innovators, user innovation
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