A Meeting of Innovation Minds

10 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2018

See all articles by Andrew W. Torrance

Andrew W. Torrance

University of Kansas - School of Law

Eric A. von Hippel

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Date Written: February 20, 2018


Eric von Hippel and Andrew W. Torrance are two scholars who might never have met, let alone become close colleagues and collaborators. In 2008, these two scholars began discussing, exchanging, and sometimes debating ideas with each other. They quickly found common ground and soon began a close and productive collaboration. Each has helped the other understand new aspects of innovation. The result has been a synthesis of ideas that has benefited both of them. In 2013, they coauthored an article entitled “The Right to Innovate” and in 2017 von Hippel reported upon their joint insights in a chapter in his book, Free Innovation. Torrance plans to publish a book on what he calls “innovation hypercycles” in 2018 that will also include some of their joint ideas. This somewhat unorthodox Essay, written jointly by von Hippel and Torrance at the request of the Northwestern University Law Review, relates how their collegial collaboration began and expanded to enrich their understandings of innovation, in the hopes of encouraging more researchers to pursue cross-disciplinary collaboration. Collaboration between scholars with expertise from disparate fields of scholarship has long been an effective method of intellectual crossfertilization. Although not every interdisciplinary collaboration is successful, this Essay illustrates the promise of one that, at least in the minds of the authors, succeeded, and exhorts scholars across any fields to consider collaborating with scholars whose research is potentially complementary. The result can be meaningful, and sometimes surprising, insights for both fields.

Keywords: Invention, Innovation, Technology, Technological Innovation, User Innovation, Free Innovation, Collaborative Innovation, Open Innovation, Household Innovation, Intellectual Property, Patent

JEL Classification: D13, K2, K23, O1, O14. O17, O25, O3, O30, O31, O32, O33, O34, O35, O38, O39

Suggested Citation

Torrance, Andrew W. and von Hippel, Eric, A Meeting of Innovation Minds (February 20, 2018). Northwestern University Law Review, Vol. 112, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3126841

Andrew W. Torrance

University of Kansas - School of Law ( email )

Green Hall
1535 W. 15th Street
Lawrence, KS 66045-7577
United States

Eric Von Hippel (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-7155 (Phone)
617-253-2660 (Fax)

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