The Dominant Role of "Local" Information in the User Innovation the Case of Mountain Biking

32 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2002

See all articles by Christian Lüthje

Christian Lüthje

Technical University Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH); Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Cornelius Herstatt

Technical University Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH)

Eric A. von Hippel

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

Date Written: July 2002

Abstract

In a study of innovations developed by mountain bikers, we find that user-innovators almost always utilize "local" information - information already in their possession or generated by themselves - to assess the need for and to develop solutions for their innovations. We argue that this finding fits the economic incentives operating on users. Local need information is the most relevant to user-innovators, since the bulk of their innovation-related rewards typically come from in-house use. Local solution information that is already "in stock" is preferred because it can be applied to innovation-related problem-solving at a relatively low cost. Our findings suggest that innovation development is distributed among users in an economical way: user-innovations tend to be developed by "low-cost providers." It also suggests that the likely function and solution type employed in most user innovations can be predicted on the basis of preexisting user activity patterns and stocks of solution-related information. This in turn opens the way to new methods for efficiently screening user populations for the presence of innovations of any specified type.

Keywords: User Innovation, Local Information, Mountain Biking

Suggested Citation

Lüthje, Christian and Herstatt, Cornelius and von Hippel, Eric, The Dominant Role of "Local" Information in the User Innovation the Case of Mountain Biking (July 2002). MIT Sloan Working Paper No. 4377-02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=322800 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.322800

Christian Lüthje

Technical University Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH) ( email )

Hamburg, D-21071
Germany

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

50 Memorial Drive
E52-556
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-7155 (Phone)

Cornelius Herstatt

Technical University Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH) ( email )

Hamburg, D-21071
Germany

Eric Von Hippel (Contact Author)

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

E62-455
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-7155 (Phone)
617-253-2660 (Fax)

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